Ten years ago, before media databases and Google-able phone numbers, the hardest task of any PR campaign was tracking down journalists’ contact details. Whether you had access to the infamous News Media Yellow Book or tried to MacGyver your way to a phone number, it was both a time-consuming and headache-inducing process.
Now, the tricky part isn’t tracking down journalists’ latest newsroom extensions. It’s figuring out when and how to engage with them in a way that’s professional, effective, and personalized to each one—especially when it comes to social media.
If you’re still wrapping your head around how to interact with journalists online, here are three questions to help guide an outreach strategy and bullet points to help you engage with journalists on social media.
First, pull out your trusty (and most updated!) media list and, line-by-line, figure out who of your top journalists are using social media and which platforms they’re using. (P.S.: Meltwater’s database search function makes this a breeze.)
For those that are using social media, are they posting daily? Several times a week? If so, you’re in business. If not, stick to email. You don’t want to risk your messages being overlooked because they simply aren’t seeing them.
This might take a little digging into their feed, but here’s what you want to get a feel for: Are they asking for sources or quotes on their platforms? Are they responding to pitches directly? Are they interacting regularly with PR people and brands? Are they telling those people to direct message them or are they having public conversations? Or are they simply linking to their own stories and not engaging at all?
This will help shape how you approach engaging with each journalist on their most active platform—whether you’re casually nurturing a relationship through sharing and commenting on their content or plan to use Facebook or Twitter as your primary pitching platform.
Once you’ve got your short-list, here are our top do’s and don’ts for engaging with journalists on social media:
Check out the mastheads of media outlets that you like, make note of the writers. When you find yourself enjoying an article, make a note of the byline. Check out other articles that the journalists you like may have penned and which other outlets they’re writing for. Look for them on Twitter and start following them. After a few rounds of this, you’ll amass a list of journalists that you’re tracking. If you want to quickly expand that list, use a media database.