Canadian journalists using social mediaYes, you need to be careful what you tweet. Especially if you hold a key position within an organization, are high profile or a celebrity. It is becoming routine for journalists to look at tweets on Twitter to source quotes. If you don’t want to see your words in print or on air, think before you hit ‘send’.

But there’s an oddity with this whole grabbing quotes from Twitter craze among journalists. Who’s grabbing tweets made by journalists? Sadly, I do see regular examples of some journalists who cross the line with their comments on Twitter. If it’s clearly your Twitter account for company use (ie. @BillatTHISNEWSPAPER), you should be careful.  It’s not the place to go spewing verbal darts that raise serious questions about your ability to be impartial when doing your job of reporting.

Here’s what I recommend every organization should do as part of its media relations strategy: Examine journalists’ Twitter accounts. (You don’t need a Twitter account to look up someone’s tweets). You’ll get a quick sense about the reporters you may have to deal with — and if they have biases:

  • Does the reporter slag organizations, people, etc., on a regular basis on their Twitter account?
  • Does the reporter engage with anyone else on Twitter, besides fellow journalists? That’s not exactly a good ‘social’ sign, if you’re in the journalism biz today. (Social media is increasingly becoming a valuable media tool for savvy journalists who want to engage with the public in today’s hyper technology era)
  • Does the reporter use Twitter for personal rants or off-colour remarks that make you want to tweet #ugh or #yikes?

In the end, you may be able to gather a small glimpse into a journalist’s mind. Or, you may simply discover a journalist who goes about his/her business on Twitter communicating news, engaging with the public, sourcing story contacts…. rather than using social media to communicate personal rants.

Social media gives us a tool to put journalists a little bit more under the microscope. Use it to your advantage and get to know the journalists in your market a little better.