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Using Twitter for Traditional PR

As a PR Agency, most clients hire us to execute a strategic media relations campaign targeted primarily to traditional media, which they believe has the most impact on their business goals. Not surprisingly, many clients today are working with tight budgets and therefore need to prioritize how their resources are applied to our services. They often come to us believing they just want our help with their strategic positioning and media relations services. But as public relations specialists, it is our job to educate clients about how focused social media efforts can enhance traditional PR results, not to mention the many other benefits of social media communications.

In a national Journalists’ Social Media Usage survey conducted by George Washington University and Cision in 2009, almost nine out of 10 journalists reported using blogs for their online research (89%). Only corporate websites (96%) are used by more journalists when doing online research for a story. In addition, approximately two-thirds of participants reported using Social Networking sites and just over half make use of Twitter for online story research. (We assume these figures have grown since this survey was conducted.) Therefore, in today’s blog post we are going to talk about utilizing Twitter to influence your PR results.

Based on the proven usage of Twitter among journalists, it’s not surprising that Twitter offers a dedicated resource entitled Twitter for Newsrooms to help reporters better utilize Twitter. It provides tips to help with reporting, such as identifying expert spokespersons and stories, as well as audience engagement and publishing. Journalists can use Twitter to quickly identify a spokesperson whose expertise is relevant to a story. This makes complete sense when you think about how reporters and editors today are pressured to do more with less as newsroom staffs get smaller and smaller. In fact, prestigious news organizations such as the BBC are actually directing their reporters to embrace social media.

Alternatively, media relations specialists use Twitter to identify and establish new media contacts, identify story opportunities, learn more about reporters’ interests, and to promote clients’ thought leadership. Following are some tips for using Twitter in support of traditional media relations:

  • First the basics – to effectively reach influential journalists via Twitter you need to find them. Obviously you can use Twitter’s search feature to identify specific journalists. You can also find reporters you do and do not already know by using sites such as Muck Rack or MediaOnTwitter. By using hashtags related to your PR angles you can identify a broader database of media targets to connect with via Twitter or to pitch via traditional methods.
  • Help A Reporter (HARO) is a great resource that uses Twitter, among other vehicles, to inform PR professionals of journalists’ urgent story needs. In cases when a reporter cannot wait for HARO’s next of three daily email blasts, HARO issues Tweets about immediate deadlines. Follow HARO on Twitter for these urgent, on-deadline leads.
  • Once you identify the right journalists on Twitter, follow their Tweets and interact with them by commenting about their reporting, asking for their opinion on a related topic, and/or offering additional expert input. They are likely monitoring readers’ responses to their reporting and will appreciate the interaction. This can help them identify you or your client as a resource.
  • Monitor key media targets’ Tweets to identify what stories they’re working on or what they’re interested in. This will allow you to develop pitches more relevant to their reporting needs for pitches utilizing traditional media relations techniques.
  • Another basic – Tweet your releases! It’s simple and helps drive traffic to your website. You can also Tweet the articles resulting from your press releases or one-on-one pitching, thanking reporters for their coverage. Another option is to use distribution services, such as Bablingo!, for disseminating your content across social media.

As a last general tip: you should always keep in mind that your Twitter account represents an extension of your personal brand. Do your homework and be careful what you post on your account and how you manage communications targeting journalists.

We’d love to hear how other media relations specialists are using Twitter to generate traditional PR!