#JournalistTwitter: A Guide to Building Media Relationships
The endless pit that is social media truly has something for everyone. Gen Z has TikTok, your grandma has Facebook, picture-perfect parasocial #influencers have Instagram – and then there’s Twitter – the holy grail of journalist updates, rants, raves, and requests.
For PR pros, Twitter presents an opportunity to research and develop a critical understanding of who our media contacts are, what content they are interested in, and build an awareness of their specific needs. In order to be successful, it’s important to leverage your Twitter presence to develop genuine and mutually beneficial media relationships. Below are a few tips and tricks that will help you more effectively build your network.
Step one: join the ranks on Twitter
Though it should go without saying, the first step of using Twitter to build relationships with the media is to simply create an account. Before you even think about pitching, you need to establish credibility and clearly identify yourself as someone journalists want to connect with. The easier you make it for a journalist to understand the benefit of working with you, the more likely it is they express interest in engaging with you and your clients.
In addition to a clear and professional headshot, we recommend including the following information on your profile:
- Identify yourself as a public relations professional
- Highlight the types of clients/sources you work with
- Include your contact information
Build your Twitter network
Once your profile is set up, it’s time to start hitting the follow button. Going to the official Twitter profiles of the outlets you want to target is a great way to begin finding the personal profiles of the writers and editors you’re likely interested in engaging with.
Most editors, staff writers, and producers will identify themselves as such in their profiles, which makes it easy to select who you want to follow. Once Twitter starts to recognize your interests, more relevant journalists will pop up and provide new opportunities to expand your network.
Get your head in the game
As your feed becomes filled with updates from your favorite media contacts and outlets, the next step is to start soaking it all in. Take the time to understand what your media contacts are tweeting about, how they promote the stories they write, and the individual needs they express. Reporters can’t stand it when they’re pitched a story that has nothing to do with their beat. If a journalist on Twitter expresses their disdain of being pitched a certain way, take it as a cue to adjust your pitch style. If they share a news story they’re proud of, hit the like and retweet buttons or respond with a positive comment.
These small actions not only reinforce the idea that you are willing to help amplify their voices and that you’re paying attention it also serves as a less intrusive way to connect and stay top of mind rather than doing so by phone or email.
Make it mutual
After several light touchpoints, and as your media contacts become more familiar with who you are, take the opportunity to formally introduce yourself by messaging them directly. The most important aspect to making this a successful interaction is to be sure the exchange is mutually beneficial.
Consider the following:
- What is the value for the journalist to connect with you and/or your client?
- How can you express why your message is important?
- What will the impact to the journalist’s audience be if a story is covered?
At the end of the day, writers, producers, editors, bloggers, and any members of the press are real people on the receiving end of your message. Just as with any relationship built in the physical world, the more you show interest in what they value, the more they will be willing to connect with you in the future.