When I was a reporter some 20 years ago, there was one way to reach me: telephone. No Gmail or texts. No Facebook or Twitter or LinkedIn. How times have changed.
The media like anyone else are part of the far-reaching, instantaneous social channels that drive communication today. Youd be hard pressed to not find a reporter, commentator, or news contributor tweeting or posting links, pictures, and comments to some social site.
For public relations pros, yours truly included, the temptation to use every channel possible to pitch story ideas about clients to the media is strong. Hey, if we can get our message across with a few tweets or posts to a journalists blog, then no harm. Right?
Wrong. Just because a reporter shares information from social media accounts does not give others carte blanche access to them. Think about it this way: Would you want every salesperson on Twitter constantly throwing 140-character pitches at you?
Communicating with journalists via social media is a balancing act that when managed properly can lead to productive, informative exchanges and possible coverage for your company, products, or services. Here are a few strategies to consider:
1.) Know your audience. That means regularly reading reporters tweets, blogs, and articles to see whats of interest to them at a given moment.
2.) Keep it professional. Just because a journalist follows you on Twitter does not open the door to chatting about what you had for lunch. Stay on topic, and
3.) Make is short and interesting. Five posts or direct messages about the same topic is a recipe for disaster. You have 140 characters use them wisely.
4.) If a journalist responds. Try to get off the social channel. Request email or phone communication going forward. Its more efficient and doesnt give competitors a chance to share the coverage or worse, steal it.
5.) If a reporter doesnt respond. Try one more time and let it go. In most cases, no response means no interest. Respect their decision and move on to the next great idea.
If youre lucky enough to engage a journalist via one of the myriad social channels, make the most of the exchange by being responsive, concise, and avoiding the sales talk. If youre met with silence? Try picking up the phone. You know, that weird thing on your desk with buttons?