The context of social media in journalism today cannot be ignored. Several mainstream media organizations such as The Guardian, Slate, and The New York Times have realized this, and are using social media to tap into their audiences and deliver breaking news while maintaining an active and engaged audience. This has started to happen across the media spectrum, particularly in public relations.
Recently, I had the chance to talk with Romey Louangvilay, senior account executive for digital and social media at Euro RSCG Worldwide PR. Romey’s work with high profile brands involves an interesting mix of traditional journalism, public relations, and social media. In this interview, Romey explains how technology and social media play a pivotal role in the accessibility of news and information to the general public.
Maurice Cherry: Tell our 10,000 Words audience a little about what you do.
Romey Louangvilay: In my role as senior account executive for digital and social media, I’m charged with being the eyes and ears in the social media landscape for clients. I work with my team to provide counsel, strategy and execution on communication efforts that help them penetrate the social space and engage with their influencers. This can range from creating high-level strategy campaigns for clients looking to engage with influencers to community management for their social profiles, including Facebook and Twitter moderation, blog content creation and monitoring. In addition, I also blog for the Euro RSCG Social and Euro RSCG Worldwide PR blogs on current events and news about social media, as well as how it affects our industry.
MC: How do you think the current digital landscape affects how journalism and reporting works?
RL: Being on the public relations side and having experience on the editorial side (from freelancing with FIGHT! Magazine), the digital landscape helps news become more accessible. Previously, readers had to wait for TV station anchors or print journalists to break the story; now, digital media allows other consumers to break the story. It’s become more difficult for traditional media to keep news or information more exclusive when just about everyone has a camera phone and access to their own blog. In regards to how reporting works, journalists today have to be able to obtain news faster and report it faster. I had a conversation with a friend who worked at Forbes.com, and she explained that they have to constantly create new stories several times a day in order to break news quicker than someone’s tweet or Facebook status. Thus, reporters are forced to work harder.
MC: What are some of your biggest challenges in working with journalists and technology today?
RL: With social media, we have access to news and brands have a platform to speak to customers, but at the same time, social media generates tons of noise. As a PR professional, we have to get news through all the noise, whether it’s tweets, Facebook updates, blog posts or updates on a Tumblr stream.
MC: What advice would you give to any up-and-coming or early-career PR people working with journalists?
RL: Connect! Don’t just preach connectivity to your clients — you need to actually do it. Whether it’s a veteran reporter or a new digital writer, PR professionals should not only learn what they write about, but engage with them (outside from the normal pitch) through their Twitter or follow their Tumblr posts. I have actually made several connections from Twitter and learned more about those reporters (and their writing preference) from their personal blog posts, and the same reporters cover my clients’ stories because I engage with them and relate the pitch to how they like to write. I have even engaged with reporters in message board forums — which is a medium many PR people forget to include in their plan — but I find forums to be one of the best places to learn how to craft a pitch catered toward a specific demographic. I have also learned what specific type of information they wanted to receive.
The same can be applied to new journalists. As a freelancer for FIGHT! Magazine, I connected with mixed martial arts and sports publicists through Twitter and even set up interviews through Facebook messages. New journalists should keep in mind that we have these social platforms at our disposal, so we should use it to learn more from the person we want to work with it, whether you’re looking for sources for a story or trying to build a relationship where you break the news first.
MC: Is there anything else you would like to share, such as any upcoming projects we should keep our eyes on?
RL: I’m actually working on something big for Q3 and Q4 for a large, global client. I can’t share specifics, but it’s going to be genius!