Social media, for better or worse, has become an integral part of our day-to-day lives and is quickly changing the future of journalism. So the question becomes, is it appropriate to reach out to journalists on social media?
There will always be contrasting opinions on this topic. In my opinion, the answer is yes, with caution. Social media can be a great resource for reaching out to journalists, but it has to be in a professional manner and through the appropriate channel. What does all that mean? Let’s dive into the unwritten rules of engaging journalists on social media.
Engage with the journalist
As with any form of conversation, social media is a two-way street. If you expect a journalist to show interest in your pitch, you have to show interest in their content. Be sure to follow the journalist and share, comment on and like their social media posts. It only takes a few minutes a day to build a mutually beneficial relationship with a journalist before sending them a pitch.
Do your research
You would never pitch a journalist without doing a little research on their recent articles, right? Well, the same process applies when pitching through social media. Now that you are following a journalist, be sure to make note of what they have covered recently, news they have retweeted or shared, and their overall interests. This will help you determine if your pitch is genuinely something they will find relevant and interesting. It’s also a good idea to do a little digging to see if this particular journalist even accepts pitches via Twitter.
Know the channel
If you are currently using social media, then you know your tone and message are vastly different depending on the channel used. Facebook is meant to be a place for family and friends to share stories and is not an appropriate medium for reaching out to journalists, as they likely prefer to maintain some sense of privacy on this channel. LinkedIn is considered a professional channel but is mainly used for networking. However, many journalists view Twitter as a great source for receiving news quickly and often use this platform as an extension of their business profile. Twitter is a great place to reach out to journalists.
Make your move
If you are planning to pitch journalists on Twitter, remember that Twitter is public. Proceed with caution. Avoid sending multiple journalists the same pitch—if one decides to click on your profile to see who sent the information, you’ll lose credibility if they also find a slew of similar tweets directed toward other journalists. I suggest sending a direct message (DM) to journalists when possible, but keep in mind they can’t direct message you back unless you follow them. Another simple rule of thumb is to make sure the account from which you are reaching out—especially if it’s your personal account—is established, has a professional tone and provides an easily recognizable photo. This will add to your trustworthiness.
Know when to follow up
Pitching a journalist on social media is acceptable, but remain genuine and try not to come across as a “stalker.” Follow up once. If you don’t hear back, then just move on. You can always send that journalist a different pitch at a later date. Also, never ask if they read your email, this is off-putting and could make the journalist seem unresponsive on a public channel.
If you follow these simple rules and are able to craft a pitch that really stands out from the crowd in 140 characters or less, pitching journalists through social media is a completely appropriate, instant way to share your messages. #HappyPitching.
For more related tips from the Red Fan team, check out these posts on simple, savvy tips for social media and how to ensure your employees are brand positive.