We frequently reference how much marketing has changed. Well, just like marketing the world of public relations has also changed. Social media provides us a whole new way of engaging with journalists.
Specifically I have found engaging with journalists on Twitter to be an incredibly valuable way to personally get in front of reporters.
While social media provides us a new place to communicate with journalists, we can't take that old school approach of a cold pitch to this new outlet.
Here are 7 tips for engaging with journalists on Twitter:
Find relevant reporters to follow. Search for reporters and bloggers that cover your industry. Then create a private list within Twitter so you can keep tabs on these reporters. I recommend updating this list at least once a month. Constantly check the "who to follow" section on Twitter for recommendations. Sometimes there will be journalists you missed in your initial searches, so always keep an eye on this section.
Engage with those contacts on the regular. Don't just engage with these contacts when you want them to publish something about your company. Instead check in to that list as part of your daily engagement strategy on Twitter. Why not tweet to one or two of these people every few weeks? Retweet something they put out or reply to a question they ask. It's good for your daily engagement and puts you on the reporter's map.
When a reporter follows you, instantly thank them. You should be in the habit of checking the profiles of those that follow you for engagement opportunities anyway. If a reporter follows you, chances are they might be wanting to know more about your company, and the presents a great opportunity to thank them for the follow and offer up engagement options. Try not to be too forceful. Instead, try: "@username, thanks for the follow! Let us know if you'd like to learn more about (insert product or service.)"
Ditch the cold pitch. Just like "cold calling" in marketing, cold pitching (this may be a term I made up) doesn't really work either. Don't just say, "Hi @username, check out this press release!" Instead ask for some input. Try sending your URL with a question, like this: "@username, what do you think of this story I'm working on? What's missing?" Tip: When you do send a pitch, decide how you want to start the tweet. If you want to be more subtle, start with "@username" so that only people who follow both of you will see the tweet in their stream. If you want more people to see the tweet try starting with "Hi @username..."
Have an easy to consume press release ready. In fact, I probably should avoid calling it a press release all together. While on Twitter, and probably always for that matter, no one wants to consume a wordy press release. Create a URL that lists facts, has a quote or two and includes images. Make sure it's enough to write a story from but doesn't bore them with words. Bullet points and images are your friend.
Follow up with lots of social love. If a journalist does decide to feature your company, don't forget to follow up with that person publicly on social media. At the very least, thank them with a tweet. Try not to stop engaging with this person all together as well. No one likes to feel used.
These are the seven tips you need to create a basic strategy for engaging with journalists on Twitter. Don't forget that journalists aren't the only people you could place this strategy in front of. Engaging with other companies or brands similar to your own isn't a bad way to get your name out there either!