Social media has become a major platform to break news stories of all different genres. For many people, social media apps get opened on their phones before they are even out of bed in the morning. News is being reported on and disseminated at breakneck speed, firing new information directly to our fingertips through hashtags and the “what’s trending” features of Facebook and Twitter.
The power of social media seems to expand daily. Social media has become so prominent within our society, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that more and more people are turning to their social networks to soak up new information and breaking news – so much so that even journalists have turned to social media to find what’s newsworthy and trending, and to immediately gather information and sources for their work.
With so many people using social networks to obtain news and instantaneously share it with others, a single topic can quickly become a “trend.” More and more, smart journalists are quick to pick up on these trends, find sources and gather information to write a story that is relevant and topical. This was evident to me within just my first few days of working for digital services at R&J Public Relations.
R&J’s client, C&A Marketing had just purchased SkyMall out of bankruptcy. As a highly visible, iconic (if somewhat quirky) American brand, SkyMall held a place in the hearts of millions of frequent flyers, who would peruse the pages during long flights and marvel at products like the all-in-one “Biffy Butler Bidet Sprayer, Toilet Paper Holder and iPad Stand,” or the life-sized yeti yard sculpture, to name but two. And now C&A Marketing was bringing SkyMall back.
R&J announced the return of SkyMall on the SkyMall Twitter page, and the response was both immediate and mind-blowing. An avalanche of Tweets and re-tweets came in from people excitedly hashtagging the return of SkyMall. The resulting flood of Tweets brought even more attention to the big news. Before we knew it, an article appeared in The Atlantic, applauding the digital presence and social media branding of SkyMall, and informing readers that their wishes came true: #SkyMallIsBack.
Within just a few hours, many other news aggregators got in on the story, sharing the article with their thousands of followers. Other journalists saw all the hype and enthusiasm surrounding the SkyMall relaunch through Twitter. A few even Tweeted directly at the SkyMall account requesting an interview, including The Huffington Post who posted and tweeted their very own story.
Seemingly endless retweets, favorites, and mentions of the article led to more and more. A SkyMall wildfire broke out, and the Twitter-sphere was engulfed. Within just a few days of the original Atlantic article breaking on Twitter, SkyMall was featured in literally dozens of news stories that were published and broadcast on some of the most highly watched and read media outlets in the world. In the first week alone, impressions from the news articles approached 300 million, as a result of placements in outlets such as Yahoo! Travel, USA Today, ABC, NBC, FOX, The Washington Post and The Huffington Post.
In just two weeks, the SkyMall name reached 4.45 million people through social media, and the Twitter account itself gained over 200 new followers. It’s no surprise then that the number of visits to the website, where viewers were purchasing products, more than doubled in response to the social media engagement.
The notion of social media as simply a way for friends to communicate is thing of the past. Today, virtually all media outlets have their own Twitter accounts where they publish their own stories, while their journalists, editors, and broadcasters are using social media to look for trending and interesting news to report on.
The lesson is that if you want to get the attention of the media, make sure you publish engaging and innovative content on social media. In so doing, you are more likely to grab and hold the attention of those journalists.