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Twitter is fun. You get to learn about weird hashtag holidays, tweet GIFs from The Office, and comment on sports and The Bachelor with millions of your closest friends.
It also has some useful features, like finding out about breaking news as it happens and connecting with people in and around your industry that can help publicists make better pitches, build relationships with key media and get more coverage for your company or clients. Here are a few ways to use twitter to supplement your PR approach.
Get to know a reporter and what they cover or tweet about – and what they don’t. There are other places to do that, but Twitter is the fast, easy and free. I asked for a few tips on twitter and both publicist Alex Perna and journalist Will Carroll cosigned on the importance of research before you reach out. Perna recommended looking at mutual followers. If you’re pitching someone new, see if one of those mutuals can introduce you to the reporter or help get an idea of what he or she will respond to.
See if they’re busy
Many journalists travel. Some of them are on the road more than they’re home. Just like you, many of them post where they are and what they’re doing. If they’re at a big event or press conference, wait until next week to pitch when they’re back at work. Are they posting pics of margaritas from the beach? Would you open an email from a person you don’t know when you’re drying off from a dip in the ocean? Yeah, me neither, so maybe try later.
If you read something by the reporter (whether you’ve pitched them before, plan to, or just liked it), share it! This one is related to the first tip, but it’s about more than research. It can often put you on a reporter’s radar and shows that you’re reading their content. Esports writer Mitch Reames says even mentioning a piece he’s written is rare, but an easy way to show you’re familiar with his work or outlet.
Talk about something else
Do you like talking about work all the time? Neither do journalists. Every interaction with a reporter shouldn’t be a pitch. See what else they’re tweeting about. Maybe you share a hobby or a common interest in the same cause or sports team. Liking or replying to posts that you relate to can be a great way to strengthen your relationship.
“Hey Miguel, did you get my email last week?”
“Good morning Laura, checking in on that press release I sent Monday.”
Follow up is crucial, but an email like the above can be doubly annoying to a reporter if they plan to get to it, but are busy, or if they’re uninterested. One way to follow up (and do all the things on this list more easily) is by following them. It’s a multi-channel, non-invasive way to recapture their attention without being a nag. If you don’t hear back from a well-researched, on-target pitch after a few days or so, just click that follow button. If you do this, take advice from Patrick Budd: They might follow you back or click on your profile, so make sure it has a link and/or tag to your organization so it’s easy to figure out who you are.
These are just a few ways I’ve found Twitter helpful to supplement my pitches. There are plenty of other ways to use it (it even supplied the research for this blog; see the replies to my tweet here), and it’s a terrific place to try something new on your own. With five PR reps for every journalist, it’s harder to break through now than ever before. Turn Twitter into an asset and help get more coverage for your company or clients by using the social network to make real connections and do better research.