How to ‘flirt’ with journalists on Twitter

For many, Twitter is a medium solely for posting ideas and content. For PR pros, it can be a great use of your time when building rapport with journalists. Follow these guidelines when looking to connect.

This article was originally published on PR Daily in January 2016.

Let’s be honest, email pitches are tough to track. You can check the guest post guidelines, try to hone in on the right journalist and craft an email you think sounds polite and courteous. Then, you get silence.

Yes, journalists are busy, but most also aren’t very responsive to a cold call. It’s why referrals get the job nine times out of 10.

So what to do? You’re in luck. Some cool entrepreneurs invented this shiny gadget called Twitter. It’s like a networking meetup that’s happens every day. People talk about things that are important to them, share ideas and post articles. If you ask me, it sounds well-equipped to handle a little flirting.

Here’s how to do it best:

Build your dream journalist list

Many, if not most, journalists are on Twitter. Each one’s usage though, is not created equal. In order to track who is doing what in terms of Twitter activity, start by adding between 10 and 20 names from your favorite blogs, to your new Twitter list. Then check their activity periodically throughout the day.

When crafting your list, don’t worry too much about departments, beats and expertise. The first step is to find journalists who are really active and use Twitter professionally. Take a look at what they’re posting. Is it all links? Is there a dialogue with others or is it mostly one-way? Is there an opportunity for you to engage?

By dedicating a certain amount of time to monitoring the activity of journalists on your list, you’ll start to get the hang of which are friendly. From there, take your cue to “flirt.”

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A bit of ego stroking never hurt

When using social media, it’s wise to be both complimentary and positive. Strategically speaking, you can be a little critical on Twitter, too.

Why not offer up your opinion on what you liked, or a typo you spotted? Flirt a little, and offer a rephrased title. All these things actually might help said journalist, enamor them to your great personality and give them a taste of your writing chops.

Exchange phone numbers

I mean the metaphorical phone number. Instead of asking for the number, why not exchange contact information? After all, you’ve struck a chord, are peers, and looking to helping each other out.

Once you have a little rapport going, ask if they’re interested in guest posts or are receptive to receiving story pitches or ideas. Be clear to make your proposal rhetorical—as in, “I hope you’ve already done your homework.”

Give and take

You’ve gotten this far, don’t mess it up by being selfish. It’s important to strike a balance when it comes to pitching and being pitched.

Give ideas and good material, but also to take comments and feedback well. Keep your ears open to criticism the journalist or his/her editor might have for your material. When in doubt, ask questions. There’s a juicy center to every topic, and your budding relationship with a journalist can surely help you find it.

Sean Hull is an author, speaker, architect and advisor to startups & fortune 500 firms. He specializes in scalability, database management, web acceleration and cloud deployments. A version of this article originally appeared on Muck Rack, a service that enables you to find journalists to pitch, build media lists, get press alerts and create coverage reports with social media data.

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