Social media and brand journalism is proving to be a key resource for journalists covering stories for online media outlets, according to the DS Simon 2014 Web Influencer Survey, which found that 92 percent of online reporters are relying on social media for story ideas and 61 percent have run stories after they were pitched via social media. Furthermore, 81 percent use third-party video in their stories.

“Smart communicators need to create their social and video content with the idea that reporters will be viewing it for story ideas,” says Doug Simon, president and CEO of DS Simon Productions, who also predicts: “Effective social media will have to take on a more journalistic tone.”

The survey found 52 percent of sites accept sponsored content while 42 percent of journalists refer PR people to their advertising departments. “We are seeing a significant increase in brand integration as part of online journalism,” says Simon. “Clearly, this is an effort to monetize their sites more effectively.”