Pitching to journalists is tougher than it used to be.
The number of PR practitioners is growing, while the number of journalists is shrinking. PR pros are frustrated that journalists ignore them; journalists are annoyed by the amount of pitches they receive, especially ones that are off topic.
It’s a problem begging for a solution.
For PR pros looking for better ways to reach reporters with their story pitches, some have turned to social media. It seems more journalists than ever are now on Twitter, Instagram and other platforms. So, it makes perfect sense that PR pros would want to use social media to gain better insight into what reporters are covering and what they care about.
Here are some techniques to make the best use of social media:
1. Media outreach. Social media is becoming a popular way to contact reporters, and for good reason. Their inboxes are flooded with pitches, most of which go ignored.
Social media offers a viable alternative; some journalists now invite you to pitch them directly via social media. For example, on Twitter, there are reporters who allow you to DM them—even if they don’t follow you. Some list their contact information and suggested pitching tips in their social media profiles.
If you do pitch them via social media, look at how active they are before sending that tweet or DM. If they haven’t been on Twitter for six months, it may not be a good way to contact them.
2. Relationship building. Following reporters on social media helps you gain insight into who they are as people. If you see you both share an interest in a sports team, for example, you might be able to strike up a conversation. This type of interaction can help you develop a rapport with the reporter, hopefully before you want to pitch him or her.
You can always share, “like” and comment on a reporter’s posts, as well. Try to be genuine about it, meaning you don’t have to “like” every single thing they post. Avoid being creepy by misusing what you learn about them via social media. That will only achieve the opposite of what you’re trying to do.
3. Social media listening. With the rise of social media, there’s more information out there than ever—but how do you use it to your advantage? One way is to research what reporters are sharing and posting on social media. Just as hiring managers are using social media to get a clearer idea of what job applicants are really like, PR pros can better understand journalists by looking at what they share on social networks.
Try using a tool such as NewsAI that shows what the reporters on your media list are talking about on social media. This can save time by prioritizing your media list based on online sentiment, helping you identify the most influential reporters writing about a topic.
4. Social media monitoring. Maybe you want to see who’s talking about your brand. In this case, monitoring for mentions can be useful.
First, let’s define “monitoring” versus “listening.” Digital strategist Jason Falls defines social media monitoring as, “the practice of using a social technology platform to notify you of a conversation so you can react to it.”
Anewstip is a search engine that helps you find reporters and media outlets that have mentioned a topic on Twitter. Mention and Talkwalker also provide monitoring capabilities. Google Alerts is yet another (free) option.
If social media can help you get closer to a reporter and assist you in sending better pitches, it benefits both sides. They receive pitches that are more targeted to their interests, and you may get more responses and engagement.