While Facebook has become a haven for everyone’s aunts and uncles, and Gen Z and Millennials congregate on Instagram, Twitter – with its ability to share up-to-the-second happenings – has evolved into more of a media network than a social networking site.
As the traditional media landscape continues to evolve, social media has become a convenient way for people to consume news. Legacy and digital-native news organizations represented four-in-ten of the most commonly linked-to sites in one study. What’s more, when verified accounts first took off, journalists made up nearly a quarter of those verified accounts.
Related: 5 Ways Social Media Has Transformed the Public Relations Industry
With the continued proliferation of social media, there’s a huge opportunity for public relations professionals to connect with media in an organic, social way and build lasting mutual relationships through these platforms. As with any form of media relations, there are a few things to keep in mind when building relationships and pitching via social media.
Present Your Best Self
If you were to approach a reporter in person, you’d want to appear credible, knowledgeable and professional. Same goes for your social media profiles. If a journalist were to look at your page, would they be interested in what you have to say? Would they trust you as a source? Embrace the 5:3:2 rule for content sharing to ensure your profile doesn’t look like a spam account – that is, for every 10 posts, five should be content from other sources, three should be your own and two should be fun posts for people to get to know who you are.
Embrace the Community
Don’t just follow the accounts of publications you want to pitch, follow the reporters themselves. The best way to find the right people is to start with finding one and looking into who they engage with to expand your community. Take advantage of Twitter’s hashtags and dive into these conversations to find people who are interested in specific topics. Creating lists on Twitter can help you keep track of and organize reporters with different beats and ensure you’re engaging with the right people and the right content.
With any form of media relations, building the actual relationship is key. With the ease and convenience of Twitter, it would be easy to become a spam account that blasts pitches at reporters left and right, but that’s not effective and certainly not beneficial to your reputation. Journalists are much more likely to accept a pitch from someone with whom they already have a relationship, particularly if that person already supports and engages with their work. Once you’ve followed the right people, regularly share their articles (and tag them), retweet them, reply to their questions, comment on their posts and engage with them as individuals outside of a business partnership mindset. Make it part of your daily news scan to check Twitter and see what the media is talking about. You’ll also notice that many reporters solicit pitches or preview topics they’re interested in on Twitter, so you might get a leg up on the competition if you pay attention.
The same standard public relations practices apply on social as through any other medium. Once you’ve built a relationship, make sure you understand the importance of humanizing your media relations and are pitching your story, not just your brand to each reporter. There are two ways to pitch reporters on Twitter: publicly, or via direct message (DM).
- Public posts: Typically best for following up on an email or providing a sneak peek of the pitch, considering you’re limited to 280 characters. Also, keep in mind that most reporters receive hundreds of pitches a week and your Tweet might get lost in the shuffle, so find a way to really stand out. Try to tie your pitch to other content they’ve posted or stories they’re working on so it doesn’t come out of the blue.
- DMs: Some reporters have their DMs open to the public; others have to be mutual follows before you can reach out this way. If it’s an option, DMs are preferable to public posts as they allow for more characters and can be – as insinuated in the name – more direct than public outreach.
When it comes to following up on Twitter pitches, try to limit it to once to avoid appearing as spam. If you don’t receive a response, keep building the relationship and continue to engage with their content until you find the right story angle that’s a better fit. If you do get a response – or even in your follow up – try to move the conversation off Twitter to allow for more detail and specificity around the story idea.
All in all, pitching reporters via social media should follow the same general rules as with any other medium. It’s not easy and building the required relationships takes time. And even when you have a relationship, pitching takes research, a relevant pitch and impeccable writing skills to really make an impact. Learn more about how LEWIS combines digital and traditional PR to build lasting media relationships for our clients by checking out our PR services.