5 Ways to Use Social Networks to Connect with Media

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“Not using social media in the workplace, in fact, is starting to make about as much sense as not using the phone or email,” says Ryan Holmes, founder and CEO of HootSuite.

Let’s connect this to public relations. In recent years, social media has quickly become a core service in our profession, but it is important to also consider how social media can be leveraged to help us with our daily jobs as well.

In PR, gaining media coverage is an essential job function. About 80 percent of journalists are already using social media to find breaking news, 60 percent to find story ideas, and about half to find sources. So, PR pros have a prime opportunity to take advantage of this activity to get messages across. And guess what? The media likes it, too. According to PR Daily, 93 percent of journalists say they appreciate it when communications pros follow them on Twitter.

But before you tweet a link to a press release link to a target journalist, check out these tips to make the most of reaching reporters on social media:

1. Do your research. Knowing what networks journalists are using to search for content and what they cover can greatly increase the chances your message will be seen. PR Daily also shares that over 86 percent of journalists check Twitter several times a day, while less than 20 percent utilize Facebook and less than two percent check LinkedIn throughout the day.

For clients to be viewed as relevant sources, be sure to keep their Twitter accounts current and updated with industry news and relevant hashtags. Connect on Twitter personally with target reporters, and be sure to share relevant news. In addition, tweet compliments to recent pieces reporters have shared, and share gratitude for coverage.

2. Give credit. Always show thanks to the media who pick up your pitch. Be sure to tweet a link to their published story from the client’s account and also possibly yours, to help strengthen that professional relationship. Be sure to tag them as a “thank you”!

3. Don’t forget your personal social media. A professional profile picture, a clear description of your profession, along with engaging, grammatically correct posts, are essential to getting and maintaining a reporter’s attention.

4. Be persistent (but not too persistent). Whether trying to reach a reporter by phone, email or social media, following up greatly increases the chances of your pitch being accepted (from 10 to 40 percent, according to a recent finding). However, keep in mind that, while 67 percent of journalists believe in the practice of following up, only five percent feel it’s ok to follow up more than once.

5. Form a relationship. Just because your story got covered doesn’t mean your connection with the reporter or media outlet needs to end. Be sure to keep following and sharing a reporter’s social media posts through your own social channels. Maybe even throw in a “great job!” or a “loved your piece on…” for extra points. Keeping up and building upon the relationship will help your pitches rise to the top in the future.

So, next time you’re ready to pitch, remember that, if used correctly, social media can be a powerful tool.

What’s your favorite social media network to use to pitch or form relationships with reporters?