Any PR seminar that includes Social Media in the title will be guaranteed sell-out. Of course then, you better know what the heck you’re talking about.
Social networking sites such as Twitter ad Facebook have become an integral part of PR, but only as of very recently. And the speed at which social media has transformed the industry has set PR practitioners into a bit of a frenzy. How do we get involved with social media? How do we use it to our benefit? How do we keep from falling behind?
As a PR intern, I have the same concerns. I may be queen bee of the tags and retweets, but my experience with social media thus far has been purely personal.
Lucky for me, my office recently participated in a webinar that shed some light on how to utilize social media in my professional efforts as well. The topic was Using Social Media to Pitch to the Press.
The webinar was based on recent findings from the Pew Research Center: For the first time ever, more people are getting their news from the web, rather than the newspaper. Wow!
A journalist’s roles are changing, and more than ever, they’re in need of content. By way of social media, many of them are actually engaging with readers and PR professionals in order to gain ideas or insight on stories they’re working on.
Our first reaction is that we can help with that! Let’s give it straight to them! However, the seminar highlighted one important step that PR professionals often disregard when pitching via social media.
Lesson Learned: Just as with traditional media pitches, building journalist relationships are key. That aspect doesn’t change with social media. What changes is HOW you build those relationships:
(Step One) — Start following the appropriate journalists and opinion leaders. Your first step is to define the audience your client is trying to reach; then determine the key influencers, journalists and bloggers for that audience. Read their articles, tweets and blogs. Become familiar with their work and areas of coverage. This gives you an idea of the type of info and stories they’d find relevant.
(Step Two) — Get on their radar. You do this by engaging with journalists and opinion leaders online. Retweet when they produce a helpful blog post, and respond to an inquiry they pose. Comment on articles thoughtfully by adding a new perspective. Make sure each engagement is in good judgement, and avoid the hopeless flattery we’ve all seen: OMG @crazykooljournalist, I love-love-loved your article on the panda bears! #awesome. I mean, personally, I’d be flattered, but let’s go with the professional opinion that thoughtful and creative commentary is what builds one’s credibility.
(Step Three) — Provide relevant information. Now that you’ve built relationships, you’re in a position to provide relevant information when needed. Choose your opportunities carefully. If a journalist is looking for a source within your client’s line of business, offer to put them in touch. If a tech blogger is in search of the coolest new gadgets, then link him to your client’s latest product development. In each instance, they will be more willing to receive that information once you have built a relationship and established credibility.