By Bonnie Moss, President and Founder of Moss Networks
Twitter can be a powerful tool to utilize when pitching stories to journalists. The ability to reach out to anyone publicly and in real time makes it a stronger platform than other social networks. As you’ve probably noticed just by watching the news or reading it online, journalists are heavily into Twitter, perhaps largely due to the intimacy of the platform.
When pitching to a journalist on Twitter, take care; some basic rules apply. Here are a few tips to maximize your results.
Build a Strong Brand Presence – You need to make sure that you’ve covered some of the basics when you start pitching to journalists on Twitter. You should have a great profile and header picture that represents your brand. Your profile should be complete and include a URL to your company website. Ideally, you should also have a large and active following on Twitter, showing social proof of your success to the journalists.
Make a Hit List – One way to stay organized about whom you’re contacting is to use Twitter lists to make a hit list of journalists you wish to target. You can also have different lists for different industries or verticals that might be interested in your stories.
Find Journalists on Twitter – Usually it’s pretty easy to find journalists on Twitter. These days, most publications include the writer’s Twitter handle in their articles. One thing to note is that, while many organizations assign unique Twitter handles to journalists they work with, the journalist you’re interested in might actually have a second handle where they are more active. Do a quick search on Twitter using their name to find any other usernames.
One great tool to find journalist on Twitter is Press Pass (http://www.presspass.me ) – Press Pass is an open, live directory of journalists and media professionals organized by the outlets they work for and the beats and regions they cover. This is a great way to find new journalists in your vertical that you might not yet be familiar with.
Build Relationships First, Pitch Second – When you meet someone in the real world, you don’t ask them for a favor a few seconds after you meet them. The same rules apply on Twitter. Try to first build a relationship with journalists. Retweet a few of their articles that you’re interested in. Engage with their tweets and answer any questions they might have. Many journalists are under tight deadlines and might turn to Twitter for feedback—help them out. After you’ve spent time helping them out, you’ll find they will be more open to your pitches.
Personalize Pitches – Don’t send out the same tweet to everyone; try to tailor your pitch to each journalist. You only have 140 characters to make an initial pitch—use those characters wisely. Be as clear and concise as possible. Some pitches might be a little complex, so try to get them interested by teasing them on the story. In short, be creative.
Use Vine – Journalists are constantly pitched stories throughout the day, and it can be a little overwhelming at times. Stand out from the crowd by using a Vine video to do a quick pitch. Vine videos are limited to six seconds in length, so plan your pitch and make it quick.
Use Images – Many people make the mistake of only using text on Twitter. As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words, so try to include a picture with your pitches that either teases or helps explain the pitch.
Follow Up on Coverage – Once you get coverage from a journalist, your job doesn’t end. Make sure to follow up with the journalist after the article has been released. Thank them for the article, and make sure to retweet them when they post your article.
Twitter is the perfect real-time medium to pitch your story to journalists. Just make sure to be a good social media citizen, treat the journalists with respect, and always try to be helpful. Remember, being a journalist is hard work, and people that help them with their jobs tend to get preferential treatment.
Bonnie Moss is President and Founder of Moss Networks Inc, a PR and Marketing agency bringing over a decade of experience in the Technology and BtoB marketplace. Follow her on twitter @mossnetworks or visit www.mossnetworks.com.