Event Summary

On Tuesday, November 18, Evening Rounds was joined by the well-known (and fascinating!) Pamela Fayerman. Pamela has spent 19 years as the Health Issues reporter for the Vancouver Sun, and writes a popular MedicineMatters health blog about the people and events making health headlines. It was an evening full of tips and tricks on engagement and relationship-building – both with the public and media – in the age of social media. A great Q&A session followed, moderated by Dave Lefebvre, Senior Communications Specialist with Providence Health Care.

A big thank-you goes out to Pamela for her excellent thoughts and insights, to Dave for his considered (and well-prepared) moderation, and to the audience for all your thought-provoking questions.

What’s leading in social media?

  • Facebook and Twitter are still seen as two of the most powerful social media tools; Facebook is essential for engagement. The Vancouver Sun’s Facebook page has 50,000 followers, Twitter has 100,000 followers.
  • Videos and photos generate the most interest on Facebook and Twitter. Online media is more likely to link to stories that feature videos.
  • It’s vital to have a Google + account – if you share a story, share it in Google+.
  • Blogging is good way to share knowledge, expertise and develop camaraderie with readers – and blogs improve your Google ranking. Blog posts stay online and continue make the rounds in digital space.

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Tips for tweeters

  • Twitter is like bait – readers dip into Twitter throughout the day, so you need to reel them in with great content.
  • It’s good practice to tweet multiple times on the same story. Multiple posts are good for building readership.
  • Pay attention to what days of the week and times of the day you tweet. In BC, Mondays and weekends are slow days, so if you have something important happening, schedule your tweets for Tuesday – Thursday, during the lunch hour and after 4:00 PM.
  • Use tools like Hootsuite or TweetDeck to schedule your tweets. Even better if you can schedule them to coincide with other big news events (Yes, hockey games have positive impact!).

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It’s just plain social media common sense

  • Monitor conversations and respond to comments and questions
  • Retweets and responses are important and they’re acknowledged
  • Don’t just push content out – make sure to engage with readers
  • Think about using multiple forms of media, like slides and video
  • Always be courteous and collegial
  • Use LinkedIn to find experts and influencers in your community
  • Tools like MuckRack and Listorious (now moved to MuckRack) can help you build your following
  • Consider attending a NewsTrain event – a travelling workshop that provides media training, skills and knowledge

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Journalism in the modern age

  • Journalists are the “hunter-gatherers” of compelling content…and social media is the new front page.
  • The digital platform is critical to the success of news organizations. The Vancouver Sun has four different versions of its newspaper: print, mobile, tablet, and desktop. Each version has a different demographic that demands diverse things (like graphics versus videos). Stories are being retooled to be more “clicky”.
  • Access to analytics is essential to know how stories are being viewed. The Vancouver Sun uses analytics on a minute-by-minute basis.
  • Videos are increasingly garnering advertising dollars, but roughly 90% of ad revenue still comes from the print space. Print audiences are a loyal bunch.
  • It’s much harder for journalists to do their job now than 20 years ago – with the digital age comes information overload and competing demands. Media, in general, is short-staffed and inundated. Younger journalists may be more adaptable, but there’s no replacement for experience.

Connecting & communicating with media – what and what not to do


  • …the necessary networking and background research to know the journalists in your field, their expertise and how to get in contact with them.
  • …go ahead and contact journalists on Twitter or LinkedIn – but if you don’t hear back, pick up the phone and call.
  • …direct your pitch to the right person for the topic – know their work and the types of stories they gravitate towards.
  • …allow for plenty of time to make your pitch (at 2-3 weeks in advance), if you have a certain journalist in mind.
  • …ask when story will be posted and how journalist can be reached if there’s a mistake made. Keep in mind that changes will need to be made in all versions of the story (print, tablet, etc.).
  • …keep SEO in mind when writing press releases and headlines.
  • …write on what you’re passionate about and you’ll gradually build an audience.
  • …consider that your tweets are very relevant to whether or not you’ll be followed by journalists and other media experts.


  • …pitch a story that’s not newsworthy or a topic that’s not of interest to the journalist you’ve selected
  • …email a journalist about a pitch and use spammy phrases in the subject line. “reminder”, “may I call you about a story”, “media advisory”, “you’re invited” and “interview opportunity” = straight to spam.
  • …expect to be followed by journalists if you don’t tweet in English, have few or any followers, or come across as a spam account.