The success of your company's PR efforts will be influenced by your ability to connect with the right journalists.
Social media sites like Twitter and Facebook provide convenient settings for building relationships with the media – if you can rise above the online chatter and get noticed by journalists who are interested in writing stories about your industry.
Social media engagement with journalists has to be mutually beneficial. You gain access to targeted journalists, and they gain access to qualified sources and stories. If you constantly bombard a journalist's Facebook page or Twitter account with pitches, he won't hesitate to kick you out of his online network.
Here are some other things you need to know about building relationships with journalists through social media:
- Follow journalists on Twitter. Become a follower before you attempt to interact with a journalist. If the journalist has a Twitter account, ask to become a follower. If he has a Facebook account, ask to be his friend. With a little effort, you will quickly get a sense about the kinds of news the journalist reports and the kinds of story ideas he's looking for.
- Create designated social media accounts. If you want to be taken seriously by journalists you have to maintain a professional, online presence. Business leaders sometimes use the same social media account for both personal and professional purposes. Journalists could care less about the mundane details of your personal life, so it's best to either limit your updates to professional subjects or create a separate account for personal updates.
- Re-tweet journalist posts. When a journalist posts something you like, re-tweet it to the rest of your network. It might sound simplistic, but it tells the journalist that you value his work and it makes it easier for him to associate your ideas with his story needs.
- Be careful about using automated updates. Auto updates like Twitter feed have their place. But when every piece of PR you produce is automatically posted to your Twitter account or Facebook page, you risk wearing out your welcome with respected journalists.
- Put your best foot forward. On a case-by-case basis, use your social media accounts to draw attention to strategic online PR documents like white papers or press releases. Be sure to include a very brief description of the piece and a link in your post.