Media Relations on Twitter: a Risk Worth Taking

Douglas Brundage

As the dust settles from Twitter's seventh birthday on March 21, it's clear that, in the last seven years, the micro-blogging service has forever changed online communications.

Sure, it's changed the length of messaging and how brands interact with the online consumers, but has it changed how PR pros approach media relations? 

Douglas Brundage, chief digital strategist at the Gansevoort Hotel Group, who will speak at PR News' April 18 Big 3 Digital PR Conference in New York, explains how PR pros can use Twitter to make better connections with the media. 

PR News: How has the emergence of Twitter changed how organizations communicate with the media?

Douglas Brundage: It has completely changed the game. Social media encourages users to volunteer personal contact information, tastes, professional histories, photos and more for the entire world to see—and for free. In the realm of journalism, a Twitter presence is often considered a "must-have" in order to communicate the most up-to-date news.

It also grants brands and individuals direct access to media contacts without having to sleuth for an email address or phone number. Social networking has opened up a rabbit hole of new psychographic details to marketers, as well as opportunities for the media. As one of the more "talkative" platforms, these features are further amplified on Twitter. 

PR NewsWhat can PR Pros do use Twitter to boost their media relations efforts?

Brundage: Establishing a concrete and well-respected Twitter presence in the first place is the best thing a PR pro can do. By actively using the platform, it shows respect for the medium as well as the "technorati" community. Reaching out to "influencers" online when you only have 10 followers and 2 tweets of your own makes even the most seasoned publicist appear amateurish. 

PR NewsWhat rules—spoken or unspoken—must be followed in using Twitter for media relations?

Brundage: Keep tweets less than 120 characters so there's room for an editable RT. Don't hound people. Engage in meaningful ways—e.g.: 'This article reminded me of you/your endeavor and am checking in,' [as opposed to], 'Hey publish this for me.'

PR News: What's the biggest challenge in using Twitter to connect with the media?

Brundage: Social media in general is not considered as legitimate a form of communication for business purposes outside of specific fields such as tech, start-ups, fashion, marketing and editorial. Although some journalists might be pleased to be contacted through Twitter or included in tweet-ups, others might consider it an intrusion or less professional than reaching out through more traditional means. It's a risk you have to take. Being disconnected is now one of the biggest luxuries anyone, but especially a media figure, can enjoy.

PR News: What’s one idea you want to impart on people attending the Big 3 Conference? 

Brundage: Authenticity. The social Web is a place rife with deception, poseurs and promoted content. In order to break through the noise on a platform like Twitter, being true to your brand, your messaging goals and yourself, is the easiest way to be taken seriously. Don't ride trends—just use the tool as you would any other form of media and partake in conversation on the network daily.   

Follow Bill Miltenberg: @bmiltenberg

Hear Brundage and other social media experts from brands such as the Audubon Society, the Nature Conservancy and WellPoint at PR News’ Big 3 Digital Conference, set for April 18 in New York City.