Twitter blasts as press releases

BuzzFeed published an interesting post on its website this week about Twitter being used as a platform for press releases.

The Center for American Progress (CAP) used Twitter to spread news of a study about the DREAM Act, according to the BuzzFeed post, and had “about 20 lawmakers and public figures,” including New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and actress Eva Longoria, tweet references to the study.

BuzzFeed writer Ruby Cramer quotes a spokeswoman for CAP as saying, “We called upon folks from the highest levers of power to individual DREAMers to make the case.”

The spokeswoman, Andrea Purse, is later quoted as saying: “We are constantly looking to adopt [sic] to the new communications jungle and to break through avalanche of election year press releases, we needed to try something out of the box,” and, “Twitter is a way to reach millions of people directly with raw data.”

This is yet another example of the many ways in which Twitter can be used in journalism today. Public relations specialists, instead of sending an email to a list of reporters with a statement, can post a release to Twitter for all to see. In this case, they were able to generate their own press by asking prominent individuals with many followers to tweet about their study.

Though I recognize it could be dangerous if public relations workers were able to sidestep journalists in this way and disseminate potentially biased information to the masses, I don’t think this method is so pernicious.

As Purse, the spokesperson, said, what is sent through Twitter is “raw data.” Readers don’t always want raw data, they want a refined, critical story. This particular use of Twitter just changes where journalists get press releases, not the need for full reporting.

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