Ah, Twitter. How you continue to change the landscape of the flow of information. This type of instant mass communication and social media has changed the way that many people communicate with each other. These changes are prevalent with the flow of information between PR practitioners and reporters in traditional media sources. So much so, that the AP has just released guidelines on how its reporters should deal with such situations. Although the AP is encouraging its reporters to make accounts on Twitter to interact with potential sources, they do want their reporters to be careful about how they gather and distribute their information.
The AP must clear any breaking news with their editors before they Tweet about it. A similar situation happened at ESPN last year. ESPN instituted a Twitter ban on breaking news by anyone that is employed under the ESPN name or any affiliates. It seems that ESPN created the ban because it was seeing a reduction in hits on its own website. But was restricting its reporters a good idea?
I’m not sure if restricting reporters from utilizing such an important tool is really the best course of action. Being the first to report breaking news is becoming more important to the public than getting the entire story right. That being said, having social media procedures in place will give organizations comfort knowing that a reporter won’t jump the gun and misreport something before it can be confirmed with editors. It’s a balance that is difficult for journalists in the new world of instantaneous information flow.
Since many different organizations have different social media policies in place, it puts PR practitioners in a difficult spot when it comes to how they share information and who they share it with. When is it appropriate to break company news via the companies Twitter handle? When is the right thing to do giving a traditional press release or media statement to a particular traditional news outlet? These are questions in which their aren’t specific guidelines for PR practitioners. As guidelines are made on the journalistic side of the equation, guidelines will likely follow for PR practitioners. In the meantime, practitioners should continue to use common sense when using their companies social media accounts, and make sure to continue to cultivate relationships with reporters and other traditional media outlets.