Every brand tailors its image on social media. Every brand engages in crisis management on social media. From intranets for internal communications to publicizing CSR, social media is at the fore of what we do—except for media relations. Somehow, many PR professionals are still timid to venture beyond email when contacting journalists.
It's an understandable instinct. People don't like their social life mixing too much with work. But social media made it easier than ever for PR pros to stay involved with journalists, and that kind of relationship now comes with the territory for them.
Anne Stevenson, content strategist at NATIONAL Public Relations, argues in the PR News Media Training Guidebook that PR pros can cultivate opportunities by being present on the platforms that journalists use to identify story angles and sources. Here are some do’s and don’ts that communicators should keep in mind when using social to land a pitch.
Fact check a reporter’s information
With the frequency of job changes and updates in the media industry today, communicators can rely on social profiles to show up-to-date information. Use social to fact check details about reporters before you reach out.
Scroll through a journalist’s feed to see if they’ve shared a similar story recently. If so, be sure to reference the story near the beginning of your pitch. Taking a bit of extra time to personalize will increase your odds of catching a reporter’s attention.
Be a helpful resource
A lot of reporters go to social media sites in search of subject matter experts or sources. Keep an eye out for these requests, and if you have the information, make sure to share it. By helping a journalist hit a deadline, you’ll be seen as a resource and you may be directly contacted in the future.
For more tips on media relations in the digital world, don't miss our March 13 webinar How PR Pros Can Engage With Journalists on Email and Social Media. Experts from Verizon, Washington Post Express, CEB Global and ClassPass will team up to teach you how to catch journalists' attention and build trusting relationships.
Be too casual
If you’re making a pitch, make sure to clearly communicate that fact to prevent confusion. Some organizations have codes of conduct for interacting on social media as an employee. Be sure to familiarize yourself with your employer’s policy if they have one.
Mass pitch on social media
When using social media, the more targeted the pitch, the better. If possible, offer the reporter an exclusive, intimating that you feel this would be a great gift for them.
Let your social relationship end once you land the story
Don’t fall into the habit of abandoning an online relationship with a reporter once you work together on a piece of coverage. While working together builds rapport, sometimes what you do after you are done working together can create a bigger impact.
Follow Anne: @a_stevenson08