Social media may have opened up the doors of communication among public relations professionals and the media, but it has also made it more important than ever to stand out among the hundreds of emails, tweets, messages and posts reporters and editors receive daily.
Is social media really the best way to get in touch with someone to pitch your story? For some the answer is yes, and others no.
According to a 2014 State of the Media report released by Vocus, in a survey of 256 media professionals from newspapers, online media, TV, magazines, and radio more than 90 percent of respondents say email is their preferred method of receiving story ideas. The other options were social media, phone calls, and instant messenger. Respondents found the most frequent way they received social media pitches was through Facebook (77 percent), with Twitter a close second (73 percent), and 34.7 percent of respondents said they had been pitched through LinkedIn. The survey found that the most respondents—45.3 percent—preferred not to be pitched through social media. So, knowing this, are there ways you can still boost your visibility on social and attract media Absolutely!
Social media platforms like LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter and Facebook are excellent places to get to know and reach the people who write about your industry and issues.
Here are 3 things you can do right now to attract the media on social media:
1. Follow Media on Twitter and Create Lists To Track Their Tweets.
Research and find the Twitter accounts for the people covering stories related to your business or area of expertise. Often, a Twitter account is featured near the title or end of an article near the author’s name. Once you follow them (and don’t be surprised sometimes they do follow back), create a list in your Twitter account for the reporters and editors you will pitch when the opportunity presents itself. You can do this by clicking on the wheel icon on the top right of your profile page or pressing “More” and then clicking on Lists.
There you can see the lists people have added you to and you can also create your own lists. I recommend naming each of your media lists by your contact’s beat and coverage area (i.e. local, national, regional). Note: List names cannot exceed 25 characters, nor can they begin with a number. If you follow each other on Twitter, you can ask them, via a direct message, how they would like to be contacted to pitch your story idea or release. Many prefer email, and if interested, they will send you their email via a direct message.
2. Like Media and Get Notifications on Facebook.
First off, when getting to know any newsroom or media contact, you should subscribe to their digital or print publication and watch or listen in to their station. And today many media outlets have social media accounts with a whole host of pictures and story and staff highlights shared throughout the day on sites like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. It’s just as key that you follow these accounts as well. After you like the page, you can choose to “Get Notifications” and stay updated on posts as they are shared. You’ll find this option under “Liked”.
You can also look for your media contacts at the news publications or stations individually on Facebook. Just be sure to “Like” and not “Friend” them. Once you like their page, you can sign up for their notifications, too. Just note that media contacts all use Facebook very differently. Many use the site for personal realtionships (after all they are human too with friends and family on Facebook) and may be turned off by your friend request, which, most likely, you followed-up to a story pitch you emailed. Think about a networking party: Would you follow a reporter or news anchor home after meeting at a networking luncheon? I hope your answer is no.
3. Create Google Alerts for Contacts in the Media.
Sign up for Google Alerts to receive email notifications any time that Google finds new results on your media contact. You can sign up for Google alerts at no cost, but you must have a Google account and be logged in to create your alerts. Once you choose the words/phrases you want to receive alerts for, you will be asked to choose how often you would like to be emailed the alert: as-it-happens, once a day or once a week. For social media networking purposes, I choose to receive alerts as-it-happens. For example, if I were to receive an alert announcing that my local news team was nominated for an Emmy, I could then immediately hop on Twitter and congratulate them. It’s one of my favorite tools (second to Google Analytics)!
Just be sure to choose only the best results to get stories most closely related to the words you create alerts for. In addition to names of media contacts and bloggers, I receive emails for phrases relevant to my clients like “New York Times Pets”, “Pet Care Trends”, “NJ Arts” and “New Jersey Arts”.
Now, after you are doing these three things for a few months, you will begin to feel more connected and comfortable with approaching the media contacts. Social media may not always be the preferred place to contact media with your story ideas, but it’s a great place to start your research and conversations.
Start engaging on social and best of luck on your media outreach. Have a question, please feel free to comment on this blog or contact me.
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