7 Tips for Communicating With Journalists via LinkedIn

In a recent PR News article, we mentioned that LinkedIn has become the most-used social network by journalists—92% are on LinkedIn. As PR professionals, you are probably trying to figure out what to do with that astounding statistic, but don't worry—we're here to help.

These tips, courtesy of Lori A. Russo, managing director of Stanton Communications, and Krista Canfield, senior manager, corporate communications, LinkedIn, will offer advice on how to leverage this valuable communications platform and successfully find and communicate with journalists.

  1. Study Their Profile: Before sending anything, take a look at their profile to get a feel for who they are and what they cover.  While you should take note of the publication they work for and their beat, you should also try to gain a better understanding of their passions and interests. Find those useful nuggets of information that connect you to the journalist.
  2. Connect with Caution: Do not just connect with every journalist you find. LinkedIn is a platform to connect with professionals you know and trust, so invite journalists to connect only if you have worked with them in the past. If you must connect with a reporter who does not know you, take time to craft a personal note in your invitation explaining why you want to connect and how you can serve as a resource.
  3. Find Other Ways to Connect: Many journalists include personal Web sites, Twitter handles, LinkedIn group memberships and other details on their profiles. Even if you are not directly connected to a reporter, if his or her profile is public, those details will be available. Take advantage of that information and find other ways to interact that may ultimately lead to a LinkedIn connection.
  4. Join Groups/Follow Publications: When researching a topic, some reporters will monitor relevant groups on LinkedIn to identify trends and locate sources. Participating in groups where you have expertise or a point of view to share can position you as a source for curious journalists. Also, you can message other members of the group even when you are not connected. This is a very good way of introducing yourself without being overassertive. Another way to stay in the loop is by following a particular publication you are interested in. This will show you what they are currently covering and update you on the hiring, firing and promoting of employees.
  5. Search Through the “Answers” Section: Under the “more” tab, there is a section called “answers.” This is an invaluable tool for PR professionals because journalists regularly use it to find out more about a topic they are covering. Surf through and search for keywords or questions that you or your client would be able to answer. This is not the time or place to pitch, but it would be smart to offer words of wisdom and advice on the topic.
  6. Make Yourself Searchable: Many journalists use the “search” function on LinkedIn to find sources. Make sure your profile is 100% complete, your profile is seven times more likely to be viewed if you add a photo and 12 times more likely if you add more than one position. You will also be much more likely to pop up in a search if you include the industries and clients you serve and features keywords that are relevant to your expertise.
  7. Utilize Established Contacts: It may seem obvious, but don’t forget about your own contacts. LinkedIn allows you to filter your connections by tag, company, location, industry and recent activity. This way, it makes it easier when to look for contacts in a certain industry or make lunch plans with a reporter you worked with in Boston while you’re up for the weekend.

Follow Danielle Aveta: @danielleaveta

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  • Joan Stewart, The Pu

    Love the tip about checking to see what groups they are in. One reason journalists join groups is to stay atop trends and see what hot topics people are discussing. If you’re part of the discussion, answering questions and sharing useful information, they might very well view you as a valuable source.