Breaking News with Social Media

By Mostafa Razzak, Principal, JMRConnect, Chairman, IMA Mid-Atlantic Group

Presidential race scandals, terrorist attacks, political unrest, and groundbreaking Congressional procedures: News stories like these are breaking on social media, in nearly real-time, long before newspaper editors or TV news anchors can get the full scoop.

While traditional outlets still play a viable role in telling the whole story, social media is clearly changing the way breaking news is consumed, distributed and shared. In fact, about half of the population has seen a breaking news story on social media before it’s published by an official news source, according to research published by Mashable.

The same research also revealed that nearly 65 percent of people get their news online, compared to 28.7 percent who still read it in newspapers. While print readership drops, social media news consumption is on the rise at 27.7 percent – and growing. Since 2009, the traffic to news sites generated by social media has increased 57 percent.

The immediacy, ease of access, and widespread use of social media channels like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter make these digital platforms a hot-bed for breaking news. This shifts the once-limited power of the newsroom into the hands of every company, every PR professional, and every consumer – as anyone can become a reporter if equipped with simple publication tools like a cell phone and a Twitter account.

Traditionally, you only had to appeal to the reporters you were pitching. Now, you have to rethink your target audience and consider that your potential customers are picking up the same news as the media. In research conducted with Forrester, PRNewswire revealed that 15 percent of its website traffic is comprised of potential buyers, as average consumers join the ranks of journalists to consume and curate news.

While this shift gives companies the power to report their own news, it also puts the pressure on them to do so effectively.

As the number of “news” outlets has grown exponentially from a select few to practically everyone, breaking news must be not only compelling enough to catch the attention of inundated masses, but also omni-channel in its distribution. (This article originally appeared on on Shaping Influence)


Mostafa Razzak is Founder and Principal of JMRConnect, a global PR, integrated marketing and Influencer Communications firm, as well as Chairman and Executive Director of the Mid-Atlantic Region for the Internet Marketing Association.

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