Twitter vs. Newswires: The Battle for ‘Breaking News’

Twitter vs. Newswires: The Battle for ‘Breaking News’.

Twitter vs. Newswires: The Battle for ‘Breaking News’

D.OBrien.featuredBy Daniel M. O’Brien, Executive Vice President & Chief Strategy Officer, Techimage

When it comes to “breaking news” there is no competition to Twitter.  The crash of Asiana Airlines flight #214 was immediately tweeted at 11:32 A.M., the exact time of the crash according to the NTSB, and was then linked through Twitter to the flight control conversations and KTVU’s live video coverage (in separate Twitter feeds).  Newswires can’t compete against Twitter for breaking news.  For all other stories, there isn’t an “either/or” when it comes to newswires versus Twitter.  It’s both, but media consumption requires dramatic changes in the way we practice PR today:

 Digital Media Channels

 Google and IPSOS did a study ( that revealed approximately 90% of all our information comes from screen-based devices (tablets, TV’s, laptops, smartphones).  This is an extraordinary shift in behavior that reflects the ubiquity of the internet and the mobile devices that fuel the consumption of information.  We have become a society of mobile information gatherers and this has changed the way PR professionals do their job, including:

  • For “breaking news” there is no faster distribution channel than Twitter.  Period.
  • The proliferation of media channels makes the need to clarify the strategy all the more important.  The strategic integration of the message across channels (traditional and digital) is the key to channel management today.
  • Keyword research must be integrated into the writing, titling and tagging of press releases, newsrooms and presentations and the rich media assets that accompany them (infographics, video, pictures).  As an example, Your title “Newswires Still Beat Twitter When It Comes to Breaking News” could be better optimized as “Newswire Distribution Still Beats Twitter When It Comes To Breaking News”.  The keyword “newswire” receives 11 X more search volume than “newswires” (6,600 versus 590).
  • Digital influencer research must be performed to identify the most authoritative voices on a specific topic, many of whom are not traditional journalists.
  • According to a Pew study on news consumption habits, 50% of Americans read news digitally.  This requires that the content we produce is “mobile optimized” or it won’t be easily read.
  • Realignment of priorities, recognizing that in most cases digital media reaches more people than traditional media.


Traditional newswire distribution is a good tool for specific geographic and audience reach, with benefits including:

  • Newswires operate more like syndication services today than actual “news” wires and provide instant distribution of appropriate opinion editorials along with news releases to 100s of news portals, in targeted categories and geographies.  Newswire distribution gets picked up by a large number of national and local media, casting a broad net for many different readers in big and small locations.
  • Pick up among a large number of media can lead to good search engine results for people searching the title of the press release.  Individual keyword searches don’t usually pull up press releases from newswires because the search engines favor original news stories from well-established media over newswire pickups.
  • Newswires offer the inclusion of rich media (for a fee) that contributes to both reader interest and enhanced SEO.

We must practice our craft differently today, using all the tools that make sense for the project at hand.  In this way, we’ll maximize coverage by adapting to the media behaviors that make both newswires and Twitter effective channels.


 About the Author: Dan O’Brien serves as executive vice president and chief strategy officer of Tech Image, a national, award-winning digital public relations firm. Dan is responsible for shaping Tech Image’s digital offerings as well as guiding client branding and strategic message development. In addition, Dan provides strategic counsel, including PR and marketing practices to Tech Image’s clients to help them accelerate awareness and achieve their strategic business objectives. Prior to joining SmithBucklin, Dan served as CEO of Vivid Ascent, a marketing agency that integrates strategic search engine optimization (SEO) into different marketing disciplines to improve the effectiveness of advertising, public relations, social media, website design and video production. Previously, he served as the senior executive partner of global advertising of Accenture, a global management consulting, technology services and outsourcing company.


Published: July 10, 2013 By: COMMPRO