Using Social Media to Build Relationships with Journalists

With the advent of social media it has never been easier for people and businesses to connect with journalists and media outlets. But with this potential there are pitfalls. Using social media incorrectly can do more harm than good. So how can brands and public relations professionals use social media effectively to build relationships with journalists? The answer may surprise you.

Social media is for building relationships not pitching. It’s like baseball—if you fire off bad pitch after bad pitch people will walk (away from you). At the heart of it, social media is all about relationship-building. Before you inundate journalists with press releases and pitches on social media platforms you need to realize that approach seldom pays off and may even have a negative effect. Focus on using social media to connect and develop relationships. Then use email, telephone, or the journalist’s preferred medium to make your pitch.

Focus more on ‘social’ than ‘media’

Yes, social media makes it easier than ever to reach out to media outlets and industry influencers. But in this digital age of social media and the 24-hour news cycle making a wrong move on social media can come back to bite you. Learning how to utilize social media and how to work with journalists may take some time but it’s a skill that will pay long-term dividends. Social media and personal branding strategist Kim Garst recently tweeted “?Social media is a marketing tool and social engagement is what you do to build relationships and create sales for your business.” In other words, one is a tool while the other is an ongoing process.

PR professionals should use social media mainly to build relationships with media and influencers. Focus on using social media for sharing current news, helpful tips, or asking for feedback on your products and services.

How to do it right

The first step is to stay active on the social media channels you use. Is your profile updated? Are you adding value to the conversation?

Do your homework. Find out as much as you can about the journalist and her publication.

Spend some time researching your pitch recipient. You should visit Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn to get a firm idea of who you’re approaching and what they’re needs and interests are.

Now, you should have enough background information to easily craft a personalized email message that the journalist will find helpful and relevant. Your goal is to show why the story is an excellent fit for the reporter.

Once you get their attention keep it brief. Use targeted pitches as a way to initiate an interaction with writers that can open the door to you being viewed as a trusted and reliable source.

The basics of pitching still apply

Initiating conversations via social media can help you create relationships with journalists you want to cover your stories. Make certain you’re not blatantly plugging your brand. Your pitches should tell a story that’s relevant to the publication’s audience.

This means you have to know the publication as well as their target audience. During your research you should have uncovered who at the publication may be interested in your pitch.

PR experts have never before had such a massive opportunity to tailor custom pitches to bloggers, journalists, and other content creators. If you use social media correctly it can make it easier to find, communicate with, and work with the media.

This guest post was written on behalf of PR Agency One; UK experts in manufacturing PR and brand management.

Matthew Marley

Matthew Marley is a SEO specialist from Glasgow Scotland with a passion for the web and emerging technologies. With over 9 years experience Matthew specialises in SEO and has worked with some of the worlds biggest brands.

3 Responses

  1. Colin Kelly says:

    Some good advice here. But I’d suggest the reality is even more extreme than the points you make. I would never encourage a client to send a press release to a journalist through social media. And PRs that do immediately end up in the bad books. Part of the reason journalists are using social media – many of them using it very well – is because they are fed up dealing with the same spam from the same PR companies. Social media gives them the opportunity to connect direct with the businesses and individuals themselves, often in their local area. That’s the opportunity. Be yourself, add value, find the journalists who deal with your sector, follow them and LISTEN. The opportunities will follow and won’t cost you a penny.

  2. Thanks for the reply Colin, much appreciated. I agree, Social Media allows you to build that relationship. If you go in with all guns blazing trying to pitch someone you are not going to do yourself or anyone else any favours. Then if the opportunity does arise you are in the position and have that relationship.

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