In today’s fast paced world it can be quite challenging for PR pros to build relationships with the media. Most journalists prefer not to be called, but then don’t respond to email. This begs the question – how are we supposed to start a relationship with media we don’t know?
Enter social media.
In a recent webinar (hosted by @bulldogreporter), several influential tech writers provided some insight. My key take away is that while it is not ideal to use social media to pitch media, it is a great way to start building relationships.
Here’s some advice based on my extensive experience pitching the most voracious social media journalists:
1. Following journalists in your industry is a great way to build a relationship
Retweet stories you find interesting and engage with reporters about their work. If you like a story, let them know. After all, we all like to receive complements for a job well done!
Building a relationship through personal and funny interactions is another way to start the relationship. If appropriate, you might tag them in a funny post or share a viral link.
If you notice a journalist has left one organization for another position, maybe send a congratulatory tweet.
If someone posts about his/her personal life, it is acceptable to interact with them, but be genuine. Don’t say you love surfing just because you see they do, if you have never tried it.
2. Twitter is the most acceptable social media platform for pitching
Once you have initiated a relationship, you can start pitching. However, be sure to do your research so that you target appropriate media. Know the companies and topics they cover.
For example, don’t pitch your client’s new Android device to a journalist that only writes about Apple products.
Keep in mind Twitter is public and you shouldn’t leave a mass trail of tweets. After pitching a journalist, he/she will likely click on your Twitter profile and will quickly lose interest if your last 20 tweets are copy and paste versions of the tweet you sent them. Personalized individual pitches will always yield better results.
3. Don’t EVER use Facebook for pitching
Friends don’t pitch friends on Facebook. Facebook is too personal and media don’t want to be bothered here. You will likely be ignored and put on the “Do Not Respond” list.
4. Don’t follow up more than once
Media usually only respond if they are interested in what you are pitching. If they are interested, they will respond. Following up once is OK. Any more than that is annoying and a sure-fire way to get ignored.
5. Keep your relationships going
Building relationships with media on social should be an ongoing task. If a journalist doesn’t bite on your pitch, it doesn’t mean you should stop engaging. He/she may not be interested in this story, but keeping a relationship going will only increase your chances to be heard next time.