We had this question come up today in an e-mail.
Is Social Media an appropriate platform on which to solicit PR?
Is it OK to find and pitch a journalist using Twitter?
Answer: Of course! It’s a tool. Just like any other technology. If it’s a legitimate way to reach out and contact another human being, then why not?
Yes, you will offend some journalists who don’t consider their personal Facebook page or Twitter account to be an acceptable avenue for business. Too bad.
Most working journalists are desperate for good story ideas, regardless of the source.
And journalists have been using Twitter and many other SM platforms for years now. There are plenty of resources to help journalists “crowd-source” stories and to help everyone else find Tweeting journalists.
Here’s a great article in Mashable: “The Journalist’s Guide to Twitter”
The best resource referenced in the above article is Muck Rack, which offers a real-time feed of journalists’ Tweets. I just checked, Jake Tapper, ABC’s Senior White House correspondent, is tweeting about the TSA.
We need to stop treating social media as some weird new animal and recognize that it is simply a new family of channels. Some of us use them, some do not.
In the same way, a hundred years ago the telephone was a bizarre new contraption that seemed odd and inappropriate in a professional setting. Out of place. A waste of time. A distraction.
But over time, we grew to like the convenience of Mr. Bell’s invention and the tremendous advantages it delivered.
Twitter is the same. Certainly NOT for everybody. But for some, a really helpful tool and an amazing new platform by which to connect people instantly.
So if you find a reporter Tweeting, Tweet back! But follow appropriate Twitter etiquette, please:
(First, make sure that this reporter would be interested in covering your story. Is it something he or she has covered before? If so, proceed.)
1. Listen first. Get a feel for the on-going conversation. What topics does this reporter mention? Can you offer a useful observation?
2. Recognize that Twitter is usually a “shout-out” from one individual to a LARGE audience. Better to find the reporter – and the conversation – using Twitter, then contact the reporter directly using another channel.
Facebook? E-mail? Or how about the old-fashioned telephone?
3. Once you have his attention, throw him a bone. Everyone loves compliments. “You do AMAZING work!”
4. Quickly cut to the chase. Describe your story in big, powerful yet concise terms. Like a movie. Good Guy vs Bad Guy. What’s the conflict? Who are the characters?
5. Confirm that NO ONE ELSE has this new story idea.
6. …but add that you want to make sure HE has it FIRST!
Then just wait for the response.
If nothing shows up, no real harm done, and you’re on to the next Twittering reporter:
1. Compliment her first on the AMAZING work that she does…
Social Media is a powerful tool. Use it.