How PR Pros Connect with Journalists Using Social Media

How media and PR interrelate has changed over the years due to social media. The advance of technology has brought about quicker turnaround time and communication, meaning that it takes a shorter period for news to go around.

Over and above that, social media channels such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn have created vital platforms through which more lasting networks between PR experts and journalists can be built.

It is imperative for journalists and experts alike to identify faster means of communicating with media houses.

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Building relationships through social media

Those in the PR profession need to come up with creative means of developing a lasting network with various members of the media such as other journalists and editors. This can be done through sharing trending content on social media, like photos and videos, for example.

Using social media to reach out to journalists

1. Comment and engage with their content

Chances are you will find a large number of media contacts that you might be interested in on Twitter, where it’s helpful to read their insights. Try searching for them and when you find them, follow them and always make it a point to engage with their content when necessary, relevant and valuable.

Most importantly, ensure you read the articles carefully to gauge their thinking process, so that you can understand their likes and dislikes. Then make yourself noticeable by replying to their tweets and retweeting. This will make you memorable to them whenever they share their content.

2. Tag social media content on your pitch

Whichever way you choose to deliver your news pitch, such as via cold calling or emails, remember to always mention a post that that journalist may have created.

To successfully gain their attention, it is important to personalize and customize your pitch. This will show journalists that you are paying a keen interest to them and the communications they put out, and also give them the impression that you are mentally engaged with the topics they’re interested in.

To make this strategy even better, try and link each piece of information that you find relevant to your page with each story that you are pitching about. Information is very important to a journalist and it will go a long way in letting journalists deem you as both knowledgeable and informative in your field.

3. Give out relevant information about your field

This is one way with which journalists can have your brand at the front of their minds whenever they write about your field.

If you cannot use paid tools to search for relevant data to share, the post feeds on your social media channels are an excellent way to get the data you need.  This will increase your trustworthiness as a reliable source and also prompt journalists to not only liaise with you, but also report on events that revolve around your brand.

It’s a known fact that creating and nurturing media networks is important in PR, but you can transcend the normal way of doing this i.e., press releases, by engaging with those in your media network through social media.

4. Look for common connection points with journalists

Identify similar interests you may share with the journalists in your area by reading their social media and blog posts. Single out those similarities and use them as conversation starters. A search on what journalists have posted on their social media pages could give you several connection points that are a vital communication tool you can use when reaching out to them. An example would be to show enthusiasm about posts, such as upcoming events, and pledge your attention and attendance if possible.

Always keep it professional and be courteous, as this will go a long way in strengthening your media network.

5. Be authentic when communicating

When compared to other communication platforms, social media is far more relaxed. It’s advisable to maintain your natural way of communicating when using any social media platforms.

However, don’t overdo it and avoid being offensive to your media network by communicating out of turn. You can avoid this by familiarizing yourself with the journalists’ communication mannerisms and following suit. In cases where you are not sure how to communicate, it’s best to just be professional and use a formal tone.

6. Use relevant platforms

Some social media platforms, such as Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat are deemed private and reaching out to journalists using them could be considered an invasion of privacy.

While the use of Facebook or Instagram as an appropriate channel for communicating with journalists is debatable, PR gurus are convinced that your efforts in reaching out to journalists may fail, since these platforms are borderline personal too. Unless the journalists allow you or invite you to communicate with them on the mentioned social media platforms, it’s best to avoid using them as this may be interpreted as an intrusion thus diminishing your chances of forming these vital networks.

Twitter is a quicker means of communication that the journalists are more likely to appreciate. There is an etiquette to using this social media channel though; if you don’t want to have your pitch read by everyone, rather send a direct message.

7. Share journalists’ articles

By sharing journalists’ articles on your social media posts you will, in turn, prove to them that you are reaching out because you value their work.

When you notice your prospective connection posts an article on their newsfeed, share it on your newsfeed as well. Caption it with your views, what intrigues you about it and tell your social network why they should read it.

This will help you show up on the journalists’ radar and they will remember you when you decide to reach out to them. When you have achieved this, you will increase your chances of getting a reply from them. Make sure to read the article properly in order to efficiently engage with it.

8. Use your individual account to connect with journalists

It is best to use your personal account at all times when communicating with journalists instead of your company account. This will help you build an affinity and strengthen your network with the journalists.

Most people would rather interact with a human as opposed to a non-personal interaction from a company account and journalists are no different. They like to see who they’re chatting with and they can do this by accessing your account, which will help you further strengthen your relationship with them.

When sending emails to journalists it’s best not to use your Gmail account. Always ensure that your email account has an email authenticator such as an SPF record. If not, your emails may be directed to their spam folder or possibly not even be delivered.

9. Keep communicating whether you have a pitch or not

Journalists will be able to tell if you are insincere about developing a long-lasting connection with them if you only communicate with them just before you send your pitch.

It’s for this reason that constant communication is important whether you have a pitch or not. Use a varied means of communication such as commenting or sharing their content, commenting on their blogs, or sending them emails.

By doing this, you will create long-term trustworthiness; and you will also be deemed as a reliable source, not just someone out to promote personal agendas.

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