The impact of social media on the public relations profession is always a hot topic on Twitter, but the conversation soars into overdrive between 8:00-10:00 Eastern every Monday night during #JournChat.
#JournChat is a hashtag-based Twitter discussion among PR pros, journalists, and bloggers founded in November 2008 by Sarah Evans, AKA @PRSarahEvans, whose day job is director of communications at Elgin Community College in suburban Chicago.
Like many interesting projects on Twitter, #JournChat started more or less by accident.
“One Monday night as I was having a conversation [on Twitter]-this was around the time when hashtags started to get big and people saw they could track conversations through them-I just added in the #JournChat hashtag,” Evans said during a recent conversation for Media Bullseye Radio that can be streamed or downloaded below. “And I think that first week the journalists and bloggers and PR folks talked for a good four hours on Twitter, and I just asked the question, ‘Are you all interested in coming back next Monday to do the same thing?’ And they said yes, and it’s been happening ever since.”
Evans serves as the moderator for the two-hour chat each week, fielding potential questions from participants through the @JournChat account and then passing on the best ones to the group. Some #JournChats feature special guests, too, such as CNN’s Steve Brusk (@SteveBruskCNN) and, most recently, Richard Laermer (@Laermer), co-founder of the Bad Pitch Blog.
The chat has also achieved enough of a critical mass-a typical Monday #JournChat garners some 2,500 tweets-that it has attracted paid sponsors. Evans clearly labels all sponsored tweets, and says she does so with the full blessing of the #JournChatters.
“Before I ever initiated the sponsored tweets, I put out a question out to all #JournChat participants asking how they would feel about it,” said Evans. “Everyone said, ‘If I could do it, I would do it. Go for it.'”