18 Jun How to engage journalists on social media
You’ve just come across the perfect journalist who is sure to love your upcoming story and will want to write about it. Yet, their email address and phone number aren’t on Gorkana. What do you do? Give up? Look for someone else? Your best bet is to think outside the box…
Social media is where it’s at nowadays. 45% of the global population is using social networks to engage with others every day. It’s safe to assume many journalists are included in this figure, considering they need to stay alert to topical events and discussions. You’re highly likely to find them on Twitter or Instagram.
Result! You’ve found their Twitter handle and they are actively engaging with stories every day. Time to make an introduction.
*Pause* Just because this is a more relaxed channel of communication, it doesn’t mean it doesn’t require as much time, effort and thought as you would put into a normal email intro. In fact, it probably requires more care, considering you are limited to 280 characters. Not to mention the fact all your followers can see what you’re messaging them. And if they reply (nicely or not) all their followers will see it too.
Don’t panic! But do plan. Follow these steps to help you engage journalists on social media and build ongoing relationships with them.
Start by doing some research into the reporter you want to connect with. Read previous stories they’ve written, see what topics they engage with and browse other webpages and articles with information about them to learn more. This will help you to confirm if they really are the right person to receive your news. It will also give you a topic of interest to start a conversation and build rapport.
Make a connection
Give them a follow. Start liking their content and perhaps comment with your thoughts. They’ll appreciate the interest you are taking in their channel and will start to recognise your name. You might even find yourself in an open discussion, developing that relationship in a totally natural and friendly way. Who knows, they may give you a follow back – meaning you now have access to direct message (DM) them and enjoy private contact not viewed by your followers or theirs.
As you feel more confident in the sorts of stories your new contact likes, you can start to tag them in similar content. They will see you taking an active interest in them. All these tactics mean that when the day for your Big Pitch comes, you’ll be a recognisable contact who they are more likely notice.
Pitching to perfection
Time to put all your graft and research into practice. Be bespoke, personal and to the point. You’re limited in characters so there is no need to pitch the finished asset but pick out the key themes that will capture their attention in a succinct way. Point out what they could gain from your content. Invite them to ask more questions. And keep an eye on your mentions…
There’s nothing wrong with following up, especially if you really do believe this is a story for them. Perhaps drop them a DM or maybe one more push on the message chain.
However, following up twice can be seen as pushy and any more than that is moving into spam territory. Don’t damage your relationship for good. Instead, continue to stay engaged with their content. Just because you haven’t connected this time, doesn’t mean they won’t be interested in your next story!
Remember, successful relationship building takes time, especially on social media. Do your research, follow the right people and get involved in conversations. Make yourself known in the community for sharing great content and having relevant opinions. When the time comes to reach out again, you’ll be more likely to get a response.