OLD Media Moves

Journalists and PR talking on Twitter every Monday night

January 19, 2009


One of the hottest discussions within trendy online communications tool Twitter.com on recent Monday nights isn’t high tech gizmos or politics. It public relations pros and journalists sharing ideas — and their common beefs — in a forum known as “Journchat.”

The weekly conversation is the brainchild of Sarah Evans (“PRsarahevans” to the Twitter world), director of communications at Elgin Community College in Elgin, Ill.

Orange County Register columnist/blogger — and former SABEW president — Jon Lansner (“jonlan” on Twitter) conducted a “twinterview” with Evans last week on Twitter in the service’s classic short-form, 140-character style.

“PRsarahevens” talks about the Monday chats that have drawn 2,000-plus “tweets” — just track #journchat from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. Eastern Time each Monday — and her views on Twitter and other social media tools and how they’re changing media relations.

jonlan: Where did #journchat idea come from?

PRsarahevans: I began having many convos w/ journs on twitter about “new” issues facing them b/c of soc media and the economy. lots of same ?’s

PRsarahevans: I was also engaging in dialogue w/ PR & bloggers about soc media &industry trends. saw a need 4 a larger dialogue and ran w/ it.

jonlan: So, how then/when was #journchat born?

PRsarahevans: #journchat came into existence 7 weeks ago (on a mon, of course). the convo went on for about 4.5 hours & there was still more 2 say.

PRsarahevans: I began asking questions tagged w/ #journchat and ppl actually started responding…it was pretty cool! so, I asked more ?’s.

jonlan: What’s your guess at who is participating; who just in the audience: PRs vs. journalists vs general public?

PRsarahevans: my guess is we have a large audience base who are “virtual voyeurs” at this point…that’s in addition to the hundreds who participate.

PRsarahevans: of those participating, the breakdown seems to be about 50% PR, 20% journs, 20% bloggers, 9% PR and journ students 1% other

jonlan: anything/topics surprise u in the discussions?

PRsarahevans: lots of surprising convos have emerged, ranging from how all sides can work together better to how to pitch a photojournalist

PRsarahevans: almost every week a few people start a convo on the diff b/t bloggers & journs which gets a little heated, so I usually try to move the convo

PRsarahevans: my fav topics r ones which spark constructive dialogue and actually give ppl actionable items to take away and apply real time.

jonlan: to u, is twitter more a of a communication tool, like a phone, or a mini-publishing platform, like a … newspaper?

PRsarahevans: it depends what conversation you want to have. it can serve as both.

jonlan: Twitter, as in media sense … fad? future?

PRsarahevans: Twitter is the beginning or a preview of what is to come. I’d put $ on the fact that ppl are already working on the next “big thing”

PRsarahevans: social media & networking online is on its way to becoming mainstream. I think 35% of adults have an online presence…the future is upon us.

How to join journchat?

+ Join Twitter at twitter.com. Use http://search.twitter.com to follow #journchat (the hashmark # denotes an ongoing conversation!)

+ Tools such as TweetDeck, TweetChat and BrightKit are more robust trackers of Twitter conversation threads.

+ #journchat if ‘officially’ — or as official as anything is on Twitter — 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. Eastern Time each Monday. But folks use and track #journchat throughout the week.

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