The biggest change in journalism that you’ve never heard of — with unignorable implications for business leaders

Iterative reporting has changed the game for people caught up in news stories who should care about getting their side of the story out and putting their organization in the best light. Most readers now find stories by searching for them online — primarily through Google.

Stories at the top of Google search results get the most clicks and the stories reported first tend to rise to the top of those results, placing enormous pressure on reporters and editors to post first and fast — and they’re not waiting for you to methodically compose a reply and call them back.

So, no matter what readers say about wanting more in-depth stories, what they’re doing is increasingly consuming news stories in short bursts. And then moving on to the next story.

Why does that matter to you? Let’s say the reporter on your story updates an existing story with your comments and point of view. Ask yourself: When is the last time you looked up a story you’d already read to check for updates?

You need to be armed with new facts or a provocative point of view to justify a new story. It gives you a chance to get your side of the story into the search results and into the river of news flowing across smartphone screens.

Twitter is the iterative process on steroids — the place we learn about news in 140-character bursts. News about the mass shooting at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando broke when someone tweeted about it from a restroom as the shooting was happening. Orlando police confirmed the shooter was dead on Twitter — not by issuing a press release to the local newspaper.

More recently, we watched on Twitter as a Charlottesville, Virginia, rally by white nationalists turned into a deadly clash with anti-protesters, and then into a national debate on the president’s response — all in real time, all in a matter of hours.

Just as Twitter has become the news feed for the world, Facebook has become the place we tell others about stories they should read — with the link to the story. Along with Google, Facebook is a primary driver of readers to news websites.

Maintaining some kind of presence on social media is no longer optional. And if you have neither the skill set nor desire to manage social media accounts yourself, then we advise you hire someone to do it for you.
Why? Because your employees, customers and clients are already there — and so are reporters.

So if you or your company are being discussed, whether positively or negatively, you need to know about it so you can respond. Stories will continue to be built piece by piece. Busy readers will learn about news in ever-quickening bursts. Business owners must get up to speed now. Or risk losing the reputation you’ve spent years building in the time it takes to refresh a smartphone.

Bruce Hennes is managing partner at Hennes Communications