Social media has dramatically changed the rules of the PR game. There are more factors to consider than ever with new targets, new social networks and new tools popping up all the time.
One thing is for certain. There is no longer any excuse for not doing your homework about the media. With the web and social networks all the information you need is available at your fingertips.
When preparing to work with the media, the best thing you can do is to think like a journalist. By putting yourself in their shoes and adopting some of their tactics, you can create pitches that are highly targeted and much more likely to turn into a media opportunity for your organization.
Think Like a Reporter
Reporters rely heavily on web searches and social media to conduct research. A 2013 study from the Oriella PR Network found that 51% of global journalists rely on microblogs (Facebook and Twitter) to source stories as long as the source of the information is known and trusted.
As newsrooms continue to be cut and reporters are expected to produce more content than ever before, social media delivers an efficient way to find what they need. From sourcing stories to background info, information is readily available.
PR can learn a big lesson from journalists when it comes to social media. Too often, PR fails to do their homework as they are stretched thin and expected to simply get things done. The key is for PR teams to build in time to execute research before they start pitching. Such research can help PR and any other stakeholders truly understand the news landscape and what their key contacts are really looking for.
Here are some tips and tools to help you better track and research your target media:
Determine Relevance with Topsy
Let’s say someone in your organization has a brilliant idea to pitch a story on an emerging trend. Topsy, a search engine for the social web should be your first stop to assess the story. With a quick search you can check out the latest articles on the web, Tweets, pictures, videos and more.
Topsy can help you determine if your story is at all relevant. Is this something the media are covering? Has your biggest competitor just announced something and already told this story? This data can help give you context and shape your story so it is most relevant to your target media.
Topsy’s influencer feature helps you identify who is covering different topics, so you can quickly see which reporters are most active and find new influencers that you can add to your target list.
Timing is Everything: Tools for Tracking Trends
With PR, being able to leverage trends can make or break a story. Tracking and researching trends on an ongoing basis can help you understand how issues are being covered, and identify when you can add to a discussion.
The granddaddy of web trend research tools is Google Trends offering a quick and easy way to see what’s trending. It also allows you to drill down by topics such as business, entertainment and sports so you can see what’s hot in each category. When you search, you can quickly see the search volume over time and regional searches. Twitter can be a gold mine for researching trends, with Topsy and Social Mention offering up data you need to get an accurate snapshot.
With stories breaking in real-time via Twitter, setting up alerts relevant to your business using tools such as Twilert can help you stay on top of things. Tracking and analyzing trending information can be particularly relevant if you have experts that can quickly respond to breaking stories.
While you are setting up alerts, you may also want to set them up so you know when your key contacts have published stories or are sharing information on Twitter. That way you can get to know them and their coverage area more intimately and make a point of engaging with them on an ongoing basis.
Source New Targets with AllTop
Anyone who works in PR is always looking for new media targets they can include in their outreach plans. There is no disputing how useful Google is when it comes to find a reporter’s email or figuring out the trade publications in a new vertical. Understanding how to create effective search strings can quickly get you the info you need.
But what happens when the VP of sales shows up at your desk wanting you to find bloggers covering a new vertical market or you are trying to expand your reach beyond the same five or six publications? That’s where AllTop comes in.
AllTop describes itself as the “online magazine rack” of the web. While Google can help you answer questions, Alltop enables you to find blogs and web sites covering specific topics and at a glance see what they are covering. The site covers hundreds of topics sharing the top sites and blogs in each one which provides you with a starting place to find new contacts for future pitching.
Media relations efforts are most successful when a strong foundation is put in place and there’s a focus on doing research so the right story goes to the right people. These tools can help PR pros do their homework and uncover information which can be critical to the success or failure of their outreach.
What web and social media tools do you use to research the media? Comment below.