The continued proliferation of social media has changed how the PR industry interacts with and pitches to the media. These days, the media are flocking to Twitter in droves, and the platform presents a new opportunity for PR pros to connect with journalists and bloggers. However, pitching there has its own set of rules and best practices.
Here are my tips on how to successfully pitch media on Twitter.
1. Develop and strengthen your online brand first. Before you pitch anyone, you want to be seen as a credible and influential source. Do you engage often with your followers? Do you share interesting and valuable information with your community? Twitter is a place to engage and converse. If you look like a spammer or as though you’re using it to stalk media, you probably won’t be successful.
2. Find the actual journalist, rather than the publication. This takes time and research. There are a few good resources for finding people in the media, such as MediaOnTwitter, and more publications are listing their staff’s Twitter handles in the publication. Twitter lists are another good resource for finding media.
3. Build a relationship first. Journalists are much more likely to accept a pitch from a PR person with whom they already have a relationship. Begin building a relationship by retweeting them, replying to their questions, and commenting on their blog posts or articles. Twitter is a great place to become a resource for media, and many journalists discuss stories they’re working on or areas of interest there, so listen and learn first.
4. The same standard PR best practices apply here, too. Don’t pitch journalists off topic. Personalize pitches for each reporter. Proofread your tweets for spelling and grammar. Avoid buzzwords.
5. Brevity is not only key, it’s necessary. You only have 140 characters to sell your client, so use them well. I find that fitting my pitch into 140 characters is a good exercise in simplifying and focusing on what’s most important.
6. Use PitchEngine. PitchEngine is a great tool to share the rest of the details, images, and video that you can’t fit into those 140 characters.
7. DM when possible. Once you have built enough of a relationship with the journalist, it is likely that he or she will be following you back. If so, DM your pitch. If not, @replying works, too, but remember that your pitch will be out there for all to see.
8. It helps if the client you are pitching is on Twitter, too. Use your client’s Twitter handle in your pitch so the journalist can follow that handle, too, and can begin building a relationship with the brand directly.
Pitching media on Twitter is like pitching media anywhere else: It’s not easy. It takes research, a smart and relevant pitch, and impeccable PR and writing skills. Have you had any successes pitching media on Twitter? How did you do it?
Maya Wasserman is a senior account executive at Bailey Gardiner. She is also blog manager for the agency’s Don’t Drink the Koolaid blog.