Twitching (Pitching via Twitter)
If you think of Twitter as something that’s useful only to teenie-boppers who want to gossip about Lady Gaga and Snooki, you may be missing opportunities for your communications program, including building relationships with reporters.
For the last decade, the news industry has used social media tools both for sourcing new leads and completing background research for story verification. According to a recent study nearly half (47 percent) of journalists use Twitter to source new story angles. There are even whole accounts dedicated to sharing source queries from reporters, such as @HelpaReporter.
Twitter’s great benefit is that it offers a direct line to mainstream media. Within 140 characters, you can spark a dialogue that develops into the story itself. Here’s a quick guide to Twitching, or pitching via Twitter:
- Do your research
- Update media lists with Twitter accounts, following both the outlet and individual journalist in order to catch the whole story.
- Create Twitter lists specific to each client; the free Twellow directory is a useful tool for ensuring targeting the right people. Each listing has a full description of what the account holder writes about and their interests.
- Use these lists to more closely monitor relevant reporters, especially during events such as medical conferences. Monitor search terms, keywords and hashtags as they continue to evolve amidst the ongoing conversation.
- Use the right option for your pitch. Options include a simple public tweet, an @ mention or direct message. With public tweets, use hashtags for outreach beyond your list of followers. Use the @ function to target a specific source, as your conversations will only be seen by mutual followers. The direct message is little more than an email, so use these only on the occasion of a discreet communiqué, ideally once a dialogue has already been established.
- Complete your Twitter profile, and include a link to your website or blog that provides more information about your company and your pitch. If possible, go beyond simply the home page and provide specific resources.
- You shouldn’t be using Twitter solely to pitch, as it’s also a great way to monitor and engage in real-time conversations. Think of Twitter not as a bullhorn, but a telephone, and be ready to strike up a back-and-forth communication. Keep the social in social media, and you will be well on your way to a successful pitch!