Reporters aren’t on social media to check out memes and food pics; they’re hunting for story ideas, sources and leads.
According to Cision’s 2015 Social Journalism Study, 51 percent of reporters can’t accomplish their jobs without social tools. Fifty-seven percent say social media has increased their productivity.
Does that mean they welcome pitches on social? Not exactly, but they are warming up to the practice. The study finds:
- Twenty-three percent of journalists accept pitches via social media, a five-point increase from 2013.
- Fewer take pitches by phone (37 percent), an 11-point decrease since 2013.
- Email is still their preferred medium for receiving pitches (83 percent).
How can you boost the odds your social media pitches will drive success? These 11 tips will help. You’ll not only pitch well but also build solid media relations and outreach programs.
1. Do your research.
You don’t need to know or follow every reporter and journalist on the face of the planet. You only need the ones with the right publication, beat and audience.
Tools like Cision’s PR platform make your pitching more effective with robust influencer profiles, links to social media accounts and a recorded history of your past engagement with those influencers.
Additionally, top PR platforms provide real-time engagement opportunities, the latest insights on what reporters are writing about and who they’re interacting with online.
2. Create media lists.
Just as you build media lists for email purposes, build them for Twitter. The lists can be public or private; it depends on what you hope to accomplish.
A public list can have an “influencer” effect, where you stand out to reporters by recognizing them as a top voice in their field. A private list keeps your competition in a state of suspense. Just how are you getting all that great coverage?
When creating a list, make sure the media database you use is accurate. Reporters often change outlets or beats. Cision’s database, for example, has 1.6 million records and receives 20,000 daily updates.
3. Prioritize reporters.
Use your private lists as a way to prioritize reporters and outlets. Where do you really, really want your story to appear? Focus there first.
4. Build a relationship.
Engage with reporters online, be that on Twitter or another network. Find out their quirks. Share relevant industry news with them. Become their trusted confidante, and they could come calling the next time they need a story source.
5. Give reporters a reason to connect.
Just because you follow a reporter on Twitter doesn’t mean they’ll follow you back. Consider why you choose to follow someone. They probably share good content AND have a relevant bio.
Implement the same practices. Share interesting, useful and fun content. Analyze your bio. Ask, “Would a reporter follow me based on my profile alone?
6. Focus on personalized pitches.
Mass tweets rarely work. Think about the tweets that recommend people to follow that are sent on #FF, also known as #FollowFriday. No one pays those tweets much attention anymore, and many view them as a kind of spam.
A similar situation occurs when you mass tweet a group of reporters or recycle the same tweet for every reporter. Personalization is everything. People notice when you spam—and they don’t forget.
7. Make your tweets stand out.
Reporters are pitched every day, all day long. Do something to stand out from the pack of PR pros. Connecting with a reporter only to say, “DM me, I’ve got a story you’ll love,” won’t get you very far, if anywhere.
Think of tweets as subject lines for an email. How do you stand out in the inbox? Apply the same methodology to tweets or, if pitching on LinkedIn, messages.
8 . Respect the direct message.
Offer a few details in a direct message, then move the conversation to another channel, usually email. Emails can be indexed and searched while direct messages cannot.
9. Create and maintain a central source of information.
You can’t say a lot in 140 characters or a brief LinkedIn message, but you can direct reporters and journalists to an information hub. For many PR teams, it’s the digital newsroom or something similar.
If you’re still in the process of creating an online newsroom, fear not. Create a landing page that contains all the pertinent details: basic story arc, visuals and other media, contact information, et cetera.
10. Only follow up once.
Pitching etiquette dictates following up on a story once and only once. Any more than that, and you get flagged as spam.
By the way, that following up once is across email and social networks. It doesn’t mean you get a pitch and a follow-up on every platform.
11. Say thank you.
It may seem odd to thank a reporter for doing their job, but thank them. Think about it. You like to be shown appreciation for doing your job. Why wouldn’t they wish for the same?
Follow those 11 tips, and you never know. Next year, more reporters and journalists could say they welcome pitches on social media.