Journalists … you need to know them. After all, they hold the key to a world of free exposure. Get in good with the right ones and you'll suddenly find your press releases being read and your stories being broadcast for the world to see and hear.
But how do you get to know the journalists? Do you just call them up and say "hey"? Do you bump into them "accidentally" on the street and hope to become buds? Eh…probably not. But now that it's the 21st century, you have it easier than ever before thanks to a little tool called Twitter.
Twitter isn't just for building your loyal fan base. It also happens to be a great place to make connections and form bonds that can further your business. It's also an excellent place to start building your network of journalists.
Here are 10 tips to help you begin making valuable connections with journalists:
1. Find them. Okay so this is a little obvious. But you need to know where to start. I recommend using one of the countless categorized Twitter directories, like Twellow or wefollow. Muck Rack is also a good site that has a journalist directory of Twitter users. You could also try Twitter's search tool, but you may find it to be lacking.
2. Don't ask them for anything. Journalists have lots of power with their readership. That means people love to ask them for stuff—and they probably get sick of it. So don't ask. Instead, make your presence felt and earn their trust.
3. Help them. Read their tweets, and when they say they need something, bust your rear to make it happen. If you're the guy who fulfills their wishes, you can bet you'll be remembered.
4. Use location and topic hashtags. Odds are reporters are monitoring the categories relevant to them. If they report on happenings in your area, make sure you tag your tweets accordingly so they will find them.
5. Retweet them. You want to both share and comment on their content. That way they know you're taking notice of what they're doing.
6. Provide them with story ideas other than your own. You can make their job easier by giving them story ideas. But start by giving them ideas that don't involve you. That way you come off as being helpful rather self-promotional.
7. Talk about them. Tweet about them. Blog about them. Promote them. Build their following for them. Give. Give. Give.
8. Offer congratulations. Is it their birthday? Did the journalist win an award? Were they first to break a big story? Let them know you noticed. A "job well done" goes a long way.
9. Learn a little about them. When you finally make contact with them, toss something into the conversation that lets them know you have taken interest in who they are. But be careful not to seem like a stalker.
10. Thank them. Eventually, they're going to scratch your back in return. Make sure that, no matter what, you say thanks. Otherwise you risk looking ungrateful and ruining all the hard work you've put into the relationship.
Have you developed relationships with journalists on Twitter?
A version of this post first appeared on PR Fuel.