With the time pressures on journalists social media offers a welcome relief for sourcing information, with thousands of sources all sharing potential stories and creating both a textual and photographic narrative of unfolding events.
In order to keep your clients in the news agenda and to share your stories, it is essential that all PRs become familiar with using social media to communicate with the press. Here are my top tips:
Become a credible newsworthy source
UK agency Text 100 conducted a survey of British journalists and found that they used an average of 2.6 social media channels to inform each article they research.
As with all PR, developing a positive reputation is key to attracting journalists to your content and promoting it above your competitors.
Ensure that you regularly share credible and newsworthy content alongside your opinion and client stories. It is possible to avoid bias while also promoting engagement, and remember to keep your comments quote-worthy.
Amplify the story
Stay informed about the latest stories and identify potential areas where your clients could contribute.
Sharing relevant facts that may help to develop a story beyond its current status is a great way to gain attention and secure interviews for your client. For instance, if you work for an insurance firm at a time of severe flooding, share data on claims, costs and what people can do to secure compensation.
Develop a relationship
Use your evenings to connect with key journalists in your client sectors. Engage with their conversations and try to be helpful – as with relationship, immediate greed or coming on too strong can be a real turn-off.
Follow up with journalists via social media after collaborating on stories to help build a lasting relationship and show that you are active and available via social media. A quick ‘thank you’ can make a real impression.
Know your networks
Journalists are more active on Twitter than any other social media network, and it is also where they are most open to pitches.
Like most of us, the vast majority of journalists keep their Facebook as a personal account and don’t like to be approached for work-related matters on this platform.
Check out the latest posts to see what they are up to. If they’re up against a deadline or attending an event, it probably isn’t the best time to chase them.
Tone is important here too – too friendly and it seems smarmy, while overly formal can be off-putting. Try to mirror their mood and be conversational.
Blog it up
Company blogs are often overlooked and uncared for, but they can provide a rich seem of content for journalists.
Forget the stale internal newsletters that no one reads, and instead focus your effort on developing a consistent, well-informed and stat-heavy blog. It may take some time to gain recognition from the press, but once they know that it is a credible source they will come back for more. Besides, its great for public and client relations in the meantime.