Charting the Industry: Twitter Up-and-Coming Pitching Platform

According to the results of a PR News/Cision Social Media Survey, Twitter is the social media platform of choice to reach the news media and bloggers. About 35% of the nearly 300 respondents to the survey—fielded from mid-April to mid-May 2012—say Twitter was their main platform of social outreach to those two targets (see question 1). That finding does not surprise Jay Krall, business development director, Cision. The ascension of Twitter as a means to get messages to wide audiences has been bolstered by its ubiquitous use by sports figures and celebrities, says Krall.

But while a quarter (25%) of survey respondents say a main goal with social platforms is to “create and broaden relationships with media and consumers” (question 2), PR pros are hesitant to use social networks to pitch stories to the media, as just 13% use them to “pitch story ideas with journalists and bloggers.”

Krall says when it comes to that tactic, there’s an elephant in the room: e-mail. This mainstay continues to be used heavily by communicators, particularly when it comes to sending out news releases. In fact, 90% of the respondents plan to either hold steady or distribute more press releases via e-mail in the coming months (question 4).

However, Krall envisions the day when e-mails to the media will decline, and more outreach will ensue via social media platforms like Twitter. “But I’m afraid that PR pros may start to fall behind the curve if they don’t experiment with social media outreach,” he says.

Yet PR News found some PR pros that are ahead of the curve. Evan Welsh, director of global media relations at SAP, uses Twitter to distribute links to all of its press releases. He believes it’s a distinct advantage. “Twitter necessitates creativity and getting to the point quickly,” says Welsh. “People don’t have the time to read a lengthy and convoluted e-mail.”

Pitching via Twitter is also deployed by Trevor Jonas, VP of digital strategy at Access Communications. Jonas sees some advantages to the practice. “Twitter is public, so it keeps all parties honest and transparent,” he says. “Also, the response often is immediate.”

Welsh considers Twitter his No. 1 social media channel for interaction with journalists. But does that mean curtains for the practice of pitching via e-mail? Probably not anytime soon.

[Catch Evan Welsh and other digital/social experts at the PR News Taste of Tech/Social Media Summit June 21-22 in New York City.]

CONTACT:

Jay Krall, jay.krall@cision.com; Evan Welsh, evan.welsh@sap.com; Trevor Jonas, tjonas@accesspr.com.

Follow Scott Van Camp: @svancamp01