Social media has already had a significant impact on public relations. PR professionals now include social media in their campaign plans and create purpose-built strategies specifically for this medium. There are plenty of social media tools and tips for PR, but using social media to pitch to journalists is something that should be explored in more detail.
According to Cision’s 2015 Global Social Journalism Study, 23% of journalists now accept pitches on social media, with Twitter becoming the third most popular channel for pitching stories, following the two main formats, email, and phone. With this in mind, it’s important to get social media pitches right.
Choose the Right Platform
As a general rule, Facebook is for friends, while Twitter is the social media network to use in a professional capacity. Before you use Twitter to pitch to journalists, make sure your profile is up-to-date – this includes clearly listing the company you work. Reporters make it their priority to check your business associations before deciding how to respond, or if they should even respond at all.
Don’t Pitch en Masse
One of the drawbacks of social media is that, due to its public nature, everyone can see what you’ve pitched and how many people you’ve sent it to. Unless you contact journalists using Twitter’s direct messaging function, all of your pitches will be visible. As such, it’s essential to be careful with your approach. Carefully select who you’re planning on reaching out to and try to space those tweets out so it doesn’t look like you’re mass pitching a story.
Move it Over to Email
If the journalist is receptive to your pitch, suggest moving the conversation over to email. This will allow you to carry out a more in-depth conversation, without character limitations. Emailing also offers the benefit of privacy and access to their email – a bonus if they don’t usually publish that information. Whilst social media pitches are on the rise, email is still far more popular and most professionals will be checking their inbox on a more regular basis than their social media channels.
Build Relationships First
The best time to approach journalists is when you don’t need them. Use social media to build a relationship with them by sharing their articles, commenting, and starting a conversation. By fostering good relationships with journalists, you can ensure that they will be more receptive to your pitches further down the line. They will also be more likely to pay attention to messages from a user they recognise, or have interacted with before, rather than a total stranger.
Do Your Research
Research is a valuable part of pitching, whether you’re pitching on social media or not. This is particularly important if the story you’re pitching is niche. There’s no use in targeting a journalist with a story about a beauty product if their area of interest is sport – that lacks common sense. Most reporters have the publication they work for and their areas of interest listed on their social media profile. With some basic research, you can avoid contacting people with no interest in the topic you’re looking to feature.
Don’t Contact a Colleague for Someone’s Details
Although fairly obvious, if you can’t find a person’s contact details, don’t ask a colleague for them. If someone’s email address or phone number aren’t publicly available, it’s likely they want to keep it that way. Furthermore, it comes across as unprofessional if you contact a person out of the blue, based on a loose contact-in-common.
Keep an Eye on Hashtags
Due to the increased use of Twitter by professionals, journalists often use the platform when researching stories. Popular hashtags have sprung into place. They’re an incredibly powerful way for a conversation to start between a journalist and an agency. Regularly checking hashtags such as #JournoRequest and #PRRequest could cut down on your pitching time. You’ll connect with reporters researching topics relevant to your client. Don’t be afraid of using it in your own tweets either. Journalists will keep an eye on hashtags just as much as you are.
You can also use this tactic to establish yourself as a useful source. By reaching out to journalists looking for helpful information on stories they’re working on, you build a reputation as a reliable contact. Which will help with any future pitches.
Don’t Forget to Say Thank You!
Building lasting relationships with journalists is incredibly valuable for businesses. If a journalist gives your client’s brand coverage, share the article on your own social media channels, and thank them. By publicly showing your appreciation, you establish a mutually beneficial relationship, opening up the possibility for more pitches.
Now you’ve read about how to pitch to journalists on social media, do you have any social media tips you’d like to share? Let us know in the comments below!