Wednesday, 22nd March 2017

Could social media be the trick to reaching elusive journalists?

Every year that passes, the PR industry grows with more consultants while journalists are rapidly declining. PR consultants can feel they are being ignored by the media, and journalists with limited time and resources get frustrated by PRs wasting their time with pitches which are irrelevant or frivolous.

However, it is not all doom and gloom and the ongoing rise of social media and the various platforms available is giving a real insight into what journalists may be interested in covering, what they are passionate about and how to reach them in the most effective way.

There are some key techniques you can implement which may make engagement with the ever-elusive reporter more successful.

Building a rapport – Following reporters on social media is the easiest way to gain insight into what sort of people they are.  You can find out their interests and this may help you start a conversation and build some sort of trust before you do a direct pitch to them. Liking and engaging in things that you may have in common such as a musician or sports team can be useful, but be careful not to be a stalker and be genuine and honest.

Journalists are trained to get to the bottom of a story, so misusing social media can have the complete opposite effect to what you want. Give a reporter a reason to connect with you. Consider why you choose to follow someone. They probably share good content and have a relevant bio. Implement the same practices. Share interesting, useful and fun content. Analyse your biography and ask, “Would a reporter follow me based on my profile alone?”

Reaching out – Social contact is becoming a more common practice to liaise with reporters. Using social media ensures your messages are succinct and to the point and avoids you sending a long-winded email pitch which will most likely be ignored or lost in the inbox.  Some media go as far as listing contact information, allowing you to DM them and even suggesting pitching tips in their social media profiles. But before you send that perfectly worded tweet, check to see the journalist’s online activity, it’s no use pitching to a reporter on a platform they have not engaged in for months. 

Instead of pitching your story outright over social media, aim to start a dialogue. The conversation can certainly be related to your pitch, but it doesn’t need to be. In fact, engaging with journalists when you don’t have a pitch will help you in the long-run, provided your conversations stay relevant. It shows them that you can add value and understand the things they care about.

Make your message stand out – Remember that if it is easy and effective for you to pitch on social media, it’s easy for everyone else to pitch on social media as well. Reporters are being pitched to daily, hundreds of times, you need to say something that makes you stand out from the crowd. Saying “DM me, I have a story you will love” will not get you very far.  Think of your tweets as the subject line of an email, and apply the same methodology to your message. Social networks are designed for two-way conversations, not one-way promotions.

Understand the different social media platforms - Review the platforms you choose to engage with media on, because not all of them will be the right fit, all should be reviewed depending on the industry being targeted.

  • Facebook – Considered not as user friendly when it comes to engaging the media. Search ability is limited and does not result in the best results.
  • LinkedIn – Because this is a professional site that is more of a reciprocal relationship, the same issues apply that are seen with Facebook. The one plus is that in some instances search options can provide some relevant opportunities for connecting.
  • Twitter and Instagram – On these two channels, relationship building is more open and you can follow and be followed by anyone. This increases the opportunity for showcasing your expertise and building recognition.

Social media is a terrific tool for pitching, but it can backfire if not executed carefully. The golden rule works well here. Use social media with journalists in the way you’d like other business contacts to use it with you.

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