Using Twitter for Media Relations

It’s no question that media relations is changing. In the past, it may have been acceptable and successful to simply post a press release in an e-mail or a fax it to a newsroom. But in a world ruled by Facebook status messages and Tweets, old school media relations is having a hard time staying relevant and producing results.

Not to mention how overworked journalists are (check out this post from Frank Krolicki about pitching journalists that are stretched thin).

However, there is still a lot of grey area for social network media relations. The practice is still in the early stages of infancy as PR pros determine successful strategies and journalists look for more ways to hide from the bombardment of flack on their social accounts.

Twitter is rapidly emerging as one of the most commonly used social media sites for pitching and attempting media relations. This is mostly due to how open the network is and how easy it is to follow anyone, even Oprah!

But, this does not mean media relations professionals can take the opportunity to fill people’s inboxes. Instead, the skill of relationship building becomes more important than ever before.

So before you head out and start tweeting, following journos and DMing, here are some tips for utilizing Twitter tastefully for your media relations goals:

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Myths About the Media Interview

Media InterviewIn our blog introduction post, we noted that we come across recurring pain points for our clients.

One of these difficulties surrounds the issue of a media interview. Whether having an on-air conversation with a radio personality or news anchor, being quoted for a daily newspaper, talking with a reporter for their news blog, or even taking part in a “Twitterview,” an interview can play a significant role in public opinion about a company or a person.

So with so many different types of interviews, it’s understandable to feel somewhat anxious before sitting down with a reporter. Many questions may arise: Is the reporter expecting that I’ll have answers for all his questions? What information will the reporter know ahead of time, and how much explanation will be necessary? Will I be able to review the story before it’s published? What if I say something that’s incorrect or I want to retract a statement?

It’s best to take it one step at a time and realize that the journalist is just doing their job. They are often overworked and simply seeking a good story that will intrigue both their editor and their readership.

Here are some points of clarification for common misperceptions about the media, as well as suggestions for conducting a better interview: 

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Stop the Press Event! How Oprah Can Kill a Conversation

Oprah taping live on michigan avenueWhenever you plan a media event, you take the chance that something may outshine you on that day. Last year we lost half our TV coverage for a charity event due to a big fire on the Southside. It happens.

Unfortunately in the days of crunched deadline and busy camera crews, things come up. Even with a breaking story stealing your thunder, you may get the same number of placements, but you lose the conversations, and that’s often the most important part.

On Tuesday, Oprah took over Chicago. It was also the first day of Chicago Public Schools. Both got covered, but one was much more talked about than another.

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There’s An App For That (But There Doesn’t Need To Be)

iphone apps
Creative Commons License photo credit: Roodee

It may be a blogger’s cliche to start a post like this, but as of right now, there are well over 65,000 appsin Apple’s App Store.  The majority of those apps?  Games, not surprisingly, given the iPhone’s unique, highly flexible touch interface and recently revamped hardware specs.  But a new trend in the App Store has cropped up recently, seemingly having infected every one of the world’s brand and marketing managers with iPhone fever.  That trend is using the mobile app as a marketing tool.  More specifically, using the mobile app as nothing but a marketing tool.  But with an app store as large (not to mention as largely saturated) as Apple’s, does it really make sense to sink valuable development hours, effort, and money into creating an app that might never break the top 100 list?  We’ll cover the pros and cons of entering the highly coveted app game, as well as some work-arounds developers and marketers alike can use to ensure their mobile strategy makes sense.

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Pitching Journalists Who are Too Busy for Pitches

Agony of DefeatIt’s no secret that today’s journalists are overworked. Newsrooms are operating on fewer and fewer people, which means most reporters are ridiculously strapped for time and have to be very selective about which stories they take on. In turn, PR professionals are having a tough time reaching media contacts who simply don’t have the bandwidth to pay attention. This has been the case for a while, but it became very clear to me recently when a reporter sent the following message in response to my suggestion that she have a brief conversation with a client to discuss a story idea:

Under normal circumstances I’d say sure, but we are so understaffed these days that I am trying to limit my meetings to ones that have a 99% chance in turning into instant stories. I cover way too much stuff, and don’t have time to write half of what I uncover. I feel like my mind is a sieve. Hopefully things will settle down when the economy improves and magazines start restaffing.

It’s safe to say this reporter’s words express what thousands of journalists are feeling. They are under so much pressure and such tight deadlines that even if they see value in a PR person’s story idea, they can’t afford to pursue it unless they’re certain it will pan out and be worth their time.

That said, certain pitches still resonate. How can you reach out to overly busy journalists and still have a chance of getting through? The key is putting yourself into the shoes of a reporter and pitching accordingly. Here are some tips:

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Visit the Walker Sands website. We specialize in PR and marketing services for technology solution providers and B2B companies. Walker Sands Digital offers a wide array of digital marketing solutions and helps firms to get the most from their online presence.
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