Reddit is the new vital news tool for journalists, but what does this mean for PR?

Writing in PR Week, Account Executive Lilian Smit examines what Reddit means for our industry

Most people think of Reddit as the birthplace of keyboard warriors and the sort of NSFW viral content that could get you in trouble if you open it in front of your mum.

But since its inception in 2005 it’s evolved from a low quality thread based sharing site into a credible breaking news source, with many journalists readily admitting it’s a treasure chest of opinion, news, tip offs and weird conspiracy theories surrounding Harambe.

Reddit has many functions as a journalist tool, it’s a great way for a writer to gauge public interest, and identify niche sources.

In breaking news context is vital, and unlike Twitter, Reddit has no character limit and it has an incredibly active and vocal community.

There is also an element of trust on the site.

When people lie they get called out by other users quickly, and it’s this self-policing that helps create genuine content.

Working as in PR requires the same skill set as journalists.

We need to be able to identify a news topic, and judge whether it has any cultural relevance to clients’ key demographics.

The beauty of Reddit is the upvote, if a subject is considered interesting Reddit users will vote, pushing it to the top of the page, meaning the most popular and relevant content will be readily available.

So why, with all this untapped information at our fingertips, haven’t PRs also adopted Reddit into their everyday strategy?

One reason to keep this site bookmarked is to stay up to date on the latest product launches, but it is also a unique way to reach the media.

There are not only various journo request pages on Reddit, but hundreds of threads between writers giving tips and advice, or Q&As.

I’m not suggesting you start muscling in on writer conversations to pitch your latest life changing pair of tweezers, but reading through discussions to give yourself a better understanding of how reporters work is an invaluable insight.

There has been a history of agency marketing teams posting content on behalf of a client, and trying to make it look natural.

It’s worth noting that whilst self promotion is not impossible on Reddit, it is strongly frowned upon in the community, and no consumer wants to feel manipulated by a brand.

There is however scope to upload promoted content onto the site, which could vastly add momentum to a wider campaign.

I get it, you’re dubious.

At first glance Reddit doesn’t appear to be a very ‘serious’ community. The front page is filled with more Pepe the frog memes than stories deemed fit for the BBC.

But we struggle everyday to make sure our work is culturally relevant so if this is where the journalists are, this is where we should be too.

Originally published in PR Week on 25th October 2016