A Two-Way Street: Using Social Media to Get to Know Reporters
Social media isn’t just a megaphone for sharing ideas. Think of it more like a walkie-talkie, where individuals, readers, potential sources and companies can engage in public and private dialog with reporters. We use social media not just for branding and advocacy, but to proactively to share news with reporters and understand which reporter is right for our story.
DMs are open - Reaching reporters where they are.
The more we started to view Twitter as a resource in media pitching, the more we realized that we could pitch reporters right on the platform where they were spending the most time. Instead of just an email, or a phone call, what about a DM (direct message)? A mention? A comment on a post? More often than not, you’ll see reporters with the phrase “DMs are open” in their Twitter bio – meaning that they’re interested in and open to (and maybe even prefer) getting pitches and tips through social media.
Beyond just pitching, we often use social media to get our sources in front of reporters without ever setting up an interview. We’ve captured short videos of Zoom recordings or newsworthy statements and uploaded that content onto social media platforms (be it YouTube, Instagram, or even company websites). And shared the short videos with reporters via email or Twitter. We found that packaging up the news in an interesting way is another form of a ‘pitch.’
You don’t have to be bound by longform pitches or press releases to share news or expertise. Sometimes, capturing your own news and sharing it with reporters via social media or email can be just as effective.
Journalists are already telling you what stories they’re interested in – Are you listening?
Before you hit send on that email, be sure you know who it’s going to. If you’re pitching media and you’re not tuned in to “journalist Twitter” yet – we invite you to get on board. You can learn a lot about journalists from reading their recent published work, but you can learn even more about these same journalists, their interests, their current projects, their pet peeves, and their deadlines from 20 minutes on their Twitter profile.
When developing media lists for clients and zeroing in on target reporters, we look to Twitter to figure out what reporters might be the best fit for a story. It’s not enough to just see what they’re writing – what about what they’re reading? What stories are they sharing and commenting on? What kind of stories are they finding most compelling right now?
The more we focused on Twitter, the more we found that reporters like to follow other reporters covering similar topics and many reporters are pretty candid on social media about their interests, current projects, and pitching likes/dislikes. Paying attention to their feeds will introduce you to other reporters that might fit your story and give you critical insight into how you can tailor your pitch to catch their interest.
Social media has made media pitching truly personal. Pitches aren’t going out to faceless, nameless “to whom it may concern” people on the other end of an email chain or telephone line. They’re going out to real people. And if you want those real people to give you their time and interest, be willing to put in the time to pay attention and do the reading on the content that they’re choosing to put out into the world. It pays off.
Caroleana Kvaterchuk Laurel Harrison
Senior Account Executive, Senior Director,
Public Affairs & Digital Strategy Public Affairs