Journalists across the globe are using social media in their daily working life and feel that it is complimentary to traditional media rather than a threat.

Research by global public relations group ECCO International found that day-to-day journalists are undertaking background research, rapid information gathering and opinion mining using social media on a daily basis. However, more interactive methods of social media such as crowd-sourcing for research, asking interview questions and liaising with PRs featured much lower on the breakdown of their daily use. Of those surveyed, 87 per cent view social media as being complimentary to traditional journalism as opposed to a threat.

Over 1100 journalists were surveyed from 12 countries about their social media habits and preferences. Facebook dominated as the most popular social media platform for journalists internationally (86 per cent) apart from in the UK where LinkedIn crept ahead. Twitter was voted the second most popular tool among journalists (61 per cent), apart from in Poland, the Czech Republic and Hungary where the younger platform google+ was more popular.

However, the online tools journalists use for researching varied internationally. In the UK (75 per cent), UAE (93 per cent), South Africa (68 per cent) and Sweden (50 per cent), Twitter came out on top, while in the Eastern European countries (Poland, Czech Republic and Hungary) Twitter’s popularity came second (25 per cent) to Facebook (71 per cent).

As for how social media is changing the way journalists interact with communications professionals – journalists in the UK placed less importance on personal contact and phone conversations (59 per cent), with email cited as the most important source for their day-to-day job (80 per cent), while social media featured very low (17 per cent). Whereas their Polish counterparts still favour more traditional methods of communication, with (90 per cent) citing personal contact and phone conversations as the most important source for their day-to-day jobs. The top three most important sources for journalist across the globe were email (75 per cent), search engines (68 per cent) and personal contact (70 per cent).

Social, but cautious

When it comes to the potential pitfalls of social media, journalists appear to be approaching it with care with over three quarters (77 per cent) of those surveyed agreeing that the speed of social media and lack of control over sources will be a problem for quality standards in journalism, except in Poland where over half (55 per cent) agreed with this statement.

Four in ten journalists agreed that certain skills were needed to do research or write for social media. However, over three quarters of journalists surveyed stated that they have never been on any social media related training. Despite this, most journalists feel that their knowledge of and competency in using social media is average (55 per cent), rather than very good (37 per cent) or bad/ non-existent (8 per cent).

“Very often we as South African’s sell ourselves short,” says Regine le Roux, Managing Director of Reputation Matters (ECCO representative in South Africa); “but by being a part of the international communications network and having the opportunity to participate in these global surveys, shows how globally competitive we are and that we are right up there when it comes to international trends.”

Lutz Cleffmann, Marketing Director of ECCO International, adds: “The survey shows clearly that social media has become an important channel of interaction with journalists, but the importance of channels varies very much from country to country. Therefore local knowledge stays an indispensable prerequisite of success.”


The survey was conducted in January and February 2013, with a total of 1149 participants from 12 countries. The countries that participated were: Sweden, Switzerland, Czech Republic, Brazil, Australia, United Arab Emirates, USA, Poland, Hungary, South Africa, United Kingdom and Italy.

ECCO International Public Relations is a network of independent PR and marketing communications agencies located in over 40 countries around the world and headquartered in London.

About Reputation Matters

Reputation Mattes is not just another PR company, we are so much more! We measure five core dimensions of the organisation using our unique RepudometerTM research tool to understand what is building or breaking down the reputation.

We have been looking after reputations for the past eight years, with at least a threefold return on investment for our clients.

Reputation Matters joined ECCO International Communications Network in 2012 and represents the network in South Africa.

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