With more than 100 million active users on Twitter every day and over a billion daily active users on Facebook, social media can serve as a powerful tool to amplify your message and reach highly targeted audiences. Just as consumers are increasingly turning to social media for news, so are journalists. While they use social media to follow items of personal interest and to interact with their own networks, they also use it to research stories and follow trends.
Do Your Homework & Consider Reaching Media Through Various Channels
- Start with research. Before you begin engaging with journalists, make sure to research their backgrounds. This will help you personalize your messages, reference relevant past articles, and explain why you have contacted them.
- Try email, too. Most journalists prefer to be contacted through email, not on social media. If you do not have an existing relationship with a journalist, a well-written email may be more effective than a tweet. Try sending an email introducing yourself and your issue first and then following up with a tweet to connect with the reporter on multiple platforms.
- You can also post a comment on the news outlet’s website under the online version of the news story.
- Do not begin with a pitch if this is your first time contacting this person.
- Though it is generally not appropriate to pitch over Twitter, you can use it to get on a journalist’s radar. Start by following the reporter on Twitter and retweeting or commenting on content you find interesting.
- Be respectful. It is important to be mindful of journalists’ time and to remember that all interactions are public. Don’t mass tweet pitches to several reporters and outlets.
- Be careful with direct messages. Do not ask a journalist you are not following to send you a direct message. Only people who follow one another can send each other direct messages.
Engagement Tips and Tricks
- Be transparent and disclose your job/purpose/association in your bio or your introductory email.
- Employ a conversational tone and avoid buzzwords.
- Always begin by listening to the existing conversation.
- Identify opportunities to be current and relevant.
- Be human.
- Be timely.
- Be prepared to carry on a conversation with your followers.
- Include hyperlinks for additional information or to cite your resources.
- Use relevant hashtags when appropriate to help your comments show up in larger conversations.
- Use handles or tag the names of people (e.g., policymakers, organizations, reporters) whose attention you are trying to garner.
- Focus on facts and avoid engaging in editorial disagreements or arguments.
- Begin with an email, then continue to engage with journalists on social media to help build valuable media relationships.
- Make sure to research journalists’ backgrounds so you can tailor any messages you send to them.
- Don’t start off with a pitch. Use social media to get to know journalists and engage with them, not to ask them for coverage.
- Always be transparent about identifying yourself and your campaign goals.