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Take a look at how companies are using social media with this graphic created by Dr4ward. Click to view a larger version of the image.

Social media is changing the game for many industries, including journalism, public relations, marketing and advertising.

I have seen this firsthand as a journalist. Information is quickly able to be shared with the masses, as individuals on the scene of breaking news can become citizen journalists. However, as Geneva Overholser says, especially with the advent of this new media, it is still important for journalists to keep an eye on public interests.

Here are some things journalists must watch for when utilizing social media:

It is still important to be right. As a story breaks, being right is still more important than being first. Jayson DeMers cited the search for the Boston Marathon bombing suspect as an example. A manhunt for the wrong man began due to word spreading on Reddit, and that wrong man ended up committing suicide.

Content is at your disposal, but you still need to ask. Yahoo! Small Business Advisor says that finding pictures and content “is just a keyword search away” on Twitter and HootSuite. However, journalism and legal standards do not go out the window. Journalists still need to ask permission to use photos/video.

Be yourself, but remember you’re still a journalist. In its social media guide, Reuters tells its journalists they are still people entitled to their opinions about a favorite recipe or movie. Yet journalists still need to be mindful of the impact that their social posts can have on their organization and their future coverage. Jacquelyn Smith of Forbes also writes about being sure to present yourself in a professional manner on social during a job search, but this tip also serves well for those who are currently employed. Bottom line: Think before you post.

Advertising, public relations, marketing — and social media!
Social media will need to be in lockstep with these three departments going forward. Lisa Barone writes for Search Engine Watch that public relations and social media departments should share editorial calendars so everyone is on the same page.

Here are some tips these field professionals can use going forward:

Have your brand evangelists keep separate social accounts. Meghan M. Biro writes for Forbes that this will keep that person’s personal brand apart from your company’s brand. This way, if that person leaves, their account is still in tact and your company’s account can move forward without losing momentum.

Decide what role you want social media to play. Social has definitely got to be part of the strategy. However, Scott Elser writes for Inc. that a company has to decide if it wants to use social media for advertising or public relations.

Get even better at focusing your pitches. As a journalist, I can tell you that I’ve heard my share of lame story pitches. Instead of calling everyone in the Rolodex or blasting out a blanket email, PR professionals can get even more focused in their pitches thanks to social media. Kate McKinney and Kiran Ross write for The Business Journals that tools like MuckRack and Cision can help PR folks find the journalists who’d be most likely to cover their story.

How have you seen social media change the game for other industries?

What social challenges/opportunities do you see going forward?

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