Friday, July 8, 2011

Sarah Evans on Trends and the Evolution of Media

This is the latest post in our series, TwitterPowerhouses, which focuses on the contributions of people who've helped to expand, influence, and redefine how we view social networking. It was co-written with Kristen Durkin, editor of the influential blog SheTakesOnTheWorld.

This is cross-posted in the Huffingtonpost Technology Section.

With Twitter recently exceeding 200 million tweets a day, you can understand why co-founder Noah Glass thought it could be something powerful, a revolutionary way of communicating. He was right. It is a platform upon which hundreds of millions of ideas are shared in real time on a world stage. Some of those ideas flow from the brilliant mind of media trailblazer Sarah Evans, creator of the first ever Twitter industry chat for journalism, public relations and bloggers.

Sarah's work ethic and attention to detail is legendary. She is always in search of fascinating people, but she need look no further than her own life for an extraordinary and empowering story: a media professional whose advice and observations inform newsrooms worldwide, a master networker respected in every corner of the public relations arena, and a digital trend-watcher known for her glamour, goodwill and generosity.

Even the most savvy has faced difficulty navigating the divide (and often tension) between traditional media and the multi-faceted emergence of new media. But Sarah does it with ease and confidence, refusing to buy into an either/or proposition. Our interview reveals a woman on the move, aware of the still unwritten chapters about the challenges and creativity in the world of media, and destined to remain one of its visionary contributors.

Photo Courtesy of Sarah Evans.

How has Twitter helped and informed your work?

Twitter is like a blank Rolodex, waiting to be filled with new people you meet. It's given many public relations practitioners easier access to people they want to connect with like journalists and bloggers in 140 characters or less. For me, it has been this and more. I jokingly say I've been able to condense 15 years of networking in to three. Twitter has also offered me a platform, or a place to share my voice and thoughts. From sharing recent blog posts to creating the first live Twitter industry chat journchat. When I started journchat three years ago, my goal was to create a relatively neutral area for journalists, bloggers and PR pros to connect. I did then, and still do, want journchat to be THE place for media to go to discuss the changing media landscape and to learn from one another.

You have 60,000+ people following your advice and news on Twitter, who do you follow for advice or breaking news?

I regularly monitor trending hashtags dependent upon trending news. I also keep several accounts on mobile Twitter alerts, including: breakingnews, cnnbrk, mashable, techmeme and others. In addition to these resources I've developed Twitter lists of friends, journalists and bloggers who often tweet about breaking news and trends. For example, last year a minor earthquake hit Chicago around 4 a.m. Because I thought there might be a story, I verified and connected with others by publicly tweeting, direct messaging national news producers and posting my story at CNN iReport, resulting in New York Times and CNN coverage--all before 9 a.m. Within four hours, there were five new business inquires for Sevans Strategy. Twitter is an excellent resource for breaking news (or rumors) and developing corresponding story angles to get sourced.

What do you think the long-term outlook is for 'traditional media' (television and radio) now that social media is red hot?

The majority of news information shared via social networks is still from mainstream media outlets. To me that says people are still looking to trusted outlets as sources for credible, vetted information. I honestly don't know what the long-term outlook is, just that it will be different and needs to evolve. It might mean less print, more mobile and more hyper-targeted angles thriving on a 24/7/365 news cycle. That doesn't mean new ways of doing journalism aren't emerging. Citizen journalists, bloggers and others have a leveled playing field and can share news and information via the same platforms as the big media players.

Photo Courtesy of Sarah Evans.

What are your thoughts on where social media will be, say, 10-15 years from now?

I'm not a futurist, but potentially within the next decade or so social media from a technology angle will mean more mobile, more integration and, likely, more regulation. Everything from our search habits to location-based data to social network posts may be used to create a super profile. Who knows!

In your bio, it describes you as a social media correspondent. I love that. Can you explain that a little more for the readers?

Isn't a fun term? I needed something that conveyed what I actually "do" with social media. First and foremost I'm a public relations professional and run a PR consultancy. However, as I mentioned earlier, I use social networks as a platform to talk about, what else, social media. For example, I recently worked with a mobile application where I attended high-profile events like the Mercedes-Benz Polo Tournament, NY Fashion Week and Perez Hilton's celebrity concert party. I interviewed celebrities like the Kardashian sisters, Ermine Dupree and other A-liters about their favorite mobile apps and reported from Facebook, Twitter, Flickr and YouTube. I didn't want to limit myself as to how I'll use the platforms in the future and it seemed like "correspondent" was neutral enough to evolve over time.

You are one of the busiest women we know. What new projects are you working on?

There's a lot in the works right now. And I am very thankful! I continue to travel North America speaking on all things social media, running Sevans Strategy, which is grows daily, and spending time with my extremely understanding husband. The newest project in the works right now? A baby boy due in August. If that's not exciting enough, I recently joined the advisory board for KnowEm, a cool social platform that helps brands and individuals secure their identities across the social web and register trademarks directly from the site. And, I remain on the advisory board for Pitchengine, my favorite platform for social media releases (and a must have resource for PR people). This has been a fun ride so far and I can't wait to see where else it all takes me.

How would you describe yourself in 140 characters?

PR. Social Correspondent. Owner SevansStrategy. Creator of Journchat. Engaging & employing emerging tech.

To learn more about Sarah Evans and her amazing presence in social media, follow her on her Twitter feed and friend her on Facebook page.

Authors' Note: In case you missed it, here's Part 18 of the series: Rise of the Female Geek.

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