Mistakes that sink your social media pitches

More journalists than ever are turning to online platforms for sources of information. Still, there are good and bad ways to contact and engage with them. Follow this advice.

Social media platforms have altered the way media outlets operate. Do your pitching tactics reflect this shift?

In 2015, more than half (51 percent) of reporters said they couldn’t complete their assignments without turning to social media tools, compared with just 28 percent in 2012.

Given that many reporters are still warming to the idea of using social media tools, you should consider how you conduct your media outreach.

Start by not stepping on reporters’ toes. Avoid making the following three social media pitching mistakes, and heed the following advice on what to do instead:

1. Generalized, mass tweets

Reporters reflexively delete your impersonal emails without much of a glance at what you’ve written. They ignore mass tweets the same way.

Instead of targeting every journalist you follow on Twitter in a spray-and-pray method, turn to a media database to determine whether social media is their preferred pitching channel.

If it is, personalize each and every outreach effort so you stand out from the spam crowd and build rapport. Then, craft social media pitches as you would write email subject lines: by grabbing their attention in a concise, yet unique way.

2. Long-winded messages

Twitter removed its direct message character limit, but that doesn’t mean you are now free to send novella-length pitches to reporters. You shouldn’t send long-winded pitches on any platform.

Whether you’re responding to an urgent HARO source request on Twitter or suggesting a story angle in response to a reporter’s recent Facebook post, the shorter the pitch, the better.

Outline details in 75 words or fewer, then either offer to continue the conversation via email or link to your brand’s digital newsroom. Social media pitches that include a call to action will be more likely to get the response you seek.

3. Incessant follow-ups

How often do you direct message a reporter to see whether he or she got your voicemail asking to call you back about the press release announcement you emailed?

Though you can try a number of ways, both online and offline, to reach a reporter, you shouldn’t follow up in every way imaginable. Pestering nonstop will turn you into the annoying fly at a picnic.

Respect reporters’ time and space by following up once per pitch. If they’re interested, they’ll get back to you. If you don’t hear back, assess your approach and think of ways to improve your pitches in the future.

A version of this article originally appeared on Cision.


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