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Mashing up social media and media relations

By Tony Harrison

July 17, 2014

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There’s no disputing social media has transformed the way businesses communicate with customers. When used properly, it also can be a handy tool for nurturing relationships with journalists.

Social media is designed to build relationships, but that rapport doesn’t just manifest itself out of thin air. It is far easier to connect with journalists online if you already have a relationship with them. Regardless, you shouldn’t “friend” or “follow” a reporter or editor just to pitch them.

In fact, a recent Vocus survey found more than 90 percent of the 256 media professionals who responded still prefer being pitched via email. Moreover, nearly half — 45 percent — said they’d rather NOT receive pitches through social media at all. Thus, if you’re looking to leverage social media in your media-relations efforts, proceed with caution.

2014.07.17.BLOG IMAGE_social mediaFollow journalists who cover your beat(s) — especially on Twitter. A good rule of thumb is to add a reporter or editor on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Pinterest, Google+, etc. when you first meet them. Keep an eye on the threads daily and respond when you have something germane and newsworthy to add. Always remember unless you DM them the conversation is public.

Many reporters and editors also blog, and if they do it’s important to read those posts. Some of the best ways to start a conversation with a media pro is to comment on one of their blogs or articles or to retweet or share one of their updates.

Other important things to keep in mind: Don’t spam, be transparent (identify your communiqué as a pitch), and be succinct. Track keywords on Twitter to learn what topics are trending. Create a group for your content that journalists can join. Consider using Flickr as an image bank for your photos and logos, or employ a Facebook Fan Page to create a company newsroom.

Also, provide journalists and spokespeople with each other’s Twitter handles so they can connect before and after the interview and sustain the relationship. After all, relationships are critical to effective PR regardless of the means by which you communicate.

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