Engaging Journalists Using Twitter
Published on February 19th, 2013 by Dagmar King
What is a journalist looking for on Twitter?
News, of course!
A better question is, How is a journalist looking for news on Twitter? A savvy journalist uses Twitter to excavate story angles in a variety of ways. PR pros with a handle on how journalists are looking for news are in a better position to offer valuable, timely expertise and generate media exposure for their clients.
Here are five great ways to leverage your company’s Twitter profile.
FIND YOUR WRITERS: The number-one reason journalists use Twitter is that it is probably the fastest, easiest way to keep up with what news sources (you!) are up to. The first step is getting in touch with them. Acquaint yourself with the search tool in the Twitter platform, peruse contact pages of news organizations, and see who your industry peers are following to bolster your feed.
- PR Tip: There are online services offering journalist directories searchable by news organization, beat, and region. PressPass (www.presspass.me) and Seek or Shout (http://seekorshout.com) are two FREE online programs that can help get you in touch with relevant media entities.
LISTEN TO YOUR WRITERS: Journalists frequently pose questions to their followers to aid in the newsgathering process. Make sure to monitor this, and deliver exactly what they’re asking for whenever possible.
- PR Tip: Journalists looking for sources will post their requests @JournoRequest or #journorequest. Search those handles for potential media opportunities.
ENGAGE YOUR WRITERS: Relevance is the key to good sharing; every tweet should tie in to something else happening on Twitter. This is what is meant by “engaging” with social media. Random posting directed at no one in particular tends to be ineffective. Imagine Twitter as a giant conversation; when it’s your turn to speak, make sure to offer something that fits in with what others are saying.
- PR Tip: Use #hashtags to start conversations. For example, when tweeting at a trade show, always add in the tradeshow hashtag. That way, journalists covering the show will see your input.
PITCH YOUR WRITERS: Every journalist has a preferred method of getting pitches. Some use Twitter, some don’t. Check their profile; it’s often a good indicator. Journalists that prefer Twitter pitches do so because the 140-character limit ensures a quick, to-the-point pitch. Ultimately, it is up to the PR pro to feel out an editor’s preference. When in doubt, simply ask — “Hello @editor, I represent @company; I have #something you might dig; what’s the best way to reach out?”
- PR Tip: A good way to warm up to an editor is to retweet stories he or she posts.
GET IN FRONT OF BREAKING NEWS: Nothing is faster and more useful than a Twitter feed for a developing story. By searching tweets with #hashtags that denote a specific topic, a journalist is able to cultivate leads in real time. 99% of breaking news stories will not have any meaningful connection with your PR, but you never know when you can get in front of a breaking story and turn it into a nice chunk of earned media.
- PR Tip: Use Advanced Search to search by topic and location for happenings that present an opportunity for getting in on news coverage. For example, a tech manufacturer that supplies electrical components for a weather-tracking device could find itself in a position to provide timely information for news media covering a storm system. Refine your search to find news opportunities specific to your client.