Engaging With Journalists on Social Media

Why would you want to engage with journalists on social media? How can they help your business? Over the years, the role of journalists has changed and as social media continues to directly impact journalism, many of them have become key influencers online. Social media has emerged to be a powerful platform to connect brands with influencers that include journalists. More than 96% of journalists engage on social media every day according to a study. Approximately 92% of journalists are on LinkedIn. So, by pitching it right on social media, you can spread the word about your business and attract the attention of the right bunch of people.

However, how do you cut through the clutter and pitches journalists receive every day, to insert your brand into the dialogue? Learning how to engage with journalists on social media can help you understand their interests and get their point of view on your industry.

To get started, ask these 3 questions first:

  1. Who is using social media?
  2. Are they using social media regularly?
  3. How do they interact with brands and PR professionals?

It’s easy to figure out who’s using social media. A quick search of Twitter, Instagram and Facebook will tell you all you need to know. Some might be on all three platforms, so take a few days to see where they engage the most. Do they post daily? A few times a week? If so, great! You can start formulating a way to begin engaging with them. Here’s where you will probably have to do a little bit of digging into their feed. You want to get a feel for how they engage. Are they asking for sources or quotes on their page? Do they respond directly to pitches? Are they interacting regularly with brands? Do they people to direct message them or have a conversation in public? Or do they simply post without engagement? All of this information will help shape how you approach each journalist, on the platform they prefer to use.

Once you’ve developed your short list, there are some do’s and don’ts for engaging with journalists on social media.

Do reach out through a personal account. Everyone prefers interacting with humans, not with generic email addresses or company Twitter accounts, and journalists are no exception. When someone can put a face to a name, it makes it that much easier to nurture an ongoing relationship.

Do include a hook. You’re still pitching, and you want to make sure your tweet, post or DM is thoughtful. Find something interesting to say, maybe about something the journalist you’re reaching out to just posted. That’s an easy way to start, and makes it personal to them.

Do ask for their outreach preferences. When they respond to you, send a direct message to ask whether the platform you contacted them on is the best place to reach out to them. That way you learn which is the most direct line to them going forward.

It is equally important to know what not to do when you’re reaching out on social media.

Don’t stalk them! We don’t mean that literally of course, just that it’s not necessary to like every post and tweet. The general rule is that if it would creep you out, it will probably have the same effect on someone else.

Don’t join online journalist communities in an attempt to pitch your business. We encourage you to tune in to journalist focused events to better understand how they work, but attending a journalists only networking event to try to get a meeting with one of them is inappropriate and won’t help you in the long run anyway.

Don’t get straight to the pitch. Yes, you’re getting in touch to pitch, and everyone knows that’s your ultimate goal. But think about what sort of impact that makes, if all you do is say hello, and go for the pitch. Building a relationship takes some work, and having a conversation about which of their content you find compelling and relevant is a good start, before asking them to write about your brand.

Now that you know the do’s and don’ts of engaging with journalists on social media, you can take advantage of the many opportunities. Social media is a great way to understand journalists’ interests, priorities and preferences, so you can create the perfect pitch to grab their attention.

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