Seven steps for finding and engaging journalists using Twitter
Posted: Thu 23rd Apr 2015
Research shows Twitter is the most popular social media networking tool for journalists, used by 75.1%, followed by Facebook at 56.7%. As a small business, it's the place to be, to connect with the journalists who write for your target market. PR coach, Debbie Leven, offers 7 top tips for reaching and engaging with journalists on Twitter.
Make the most of your time and find the right media contacts following these steps:
1. Start small
It's easy to build a huge list of media contacts but then become disillusioned because you've created a mountain of work for yourself that feels overwhelming. If you want to find and engage journalists, and build meaningful working relations, then start small. You'll get much better results much sooner.
2. Find the right contacts
If you know the media outlets that are relevant then read the publications and look at the websites to get a feel for the journalists who write for them. For online you will be able to track down Twitter handles for journalists quite easily, either via a link direct from articles they have written or by using a search engine and putting their name together with 'Twitter' in the search box.
If you don't know which publications or websites are relevant then use a search engine again and take a keyword for your niche and search on it adding '+ news' to the search term. You'll need to do some filtering but that will give you a good start for the media outlets that are relevant. Ask clients about the publications and websites they read as this is also a good guide.
3. Dig deep with research
Once you've identified the right contacts, check out what those individuals report on and write about to ensure they are a good fit for you. From your research you'll be able to see quite quickly whether they are interested in contributed/expert articles, comment or opinion articles, case studies etc.
4. Follow on Twitter
After you've found the right contacts follow them on Twitter and look at what they tweet about and the balance between promoting content, questions, articles of interest and personal stuff. It's also useful to make a note of the hashtags they use. Hashtags are simply a way to label a tweet with a relevant term to make content easily searchable.
These days journalists don't just find and report on stories, ideas and opinions, they also have a role in disseminating content and encouraging others to like and share.
5. Be of service
Once you've got a good idea for how your target journalist uses Twitter then you can get on their radar by being of service. Answer their questions, share their tweets, share useful information, resources and contacts and strengthen that by commenting on their articles too. Do they notice who comments on their articles? Of course they do and that will help when you email them with a news story or an idea for an article.
6. Finding the right opportunities
It's a good idea to keep an eye out for relevant media requests that come up on Twitter. There are some hashtags journalists use on Twitter to highlight media requests, the hashtag #journorequest is a common one. You could, however, spend all day, every day, following that and not spot anything that is worth following up.
The key is to use it in conjunction with keywords relevant for your specialist area. So, for example, go to Twitter and type in #journorequest '+ diet'. Tweets from journalists requesting help with diet information and stories will come up. That's a much smarter way to find the journalists looking for what you can help them with.
7. Jump on relevant stories
When a news story hits, journalists go looking for other angles and examples - views, case studies, experts who can add to the story, who can provide additional information and perspective. So, when a relevant news story breaks, hop on to Twitter and check out the journorequest hashtag with the different keywords relevant for the story. Also, keep an eye on what's trending on Twitter, if people are chatting about something then there will be journalists interested in that too.
Opportunities pop up every day on Twitter - journalists are using it to find stories, source experts and get information. If you want more visibility for your business, Twitter is an effective use of your time, used in the right way. It gives you a great way to connect and engage with journalists and to get yourself noticed. Chances are this is more than your competitors are doing!
Twitter is just one way to find and connect with journalists and get press and media coverage. For other ways, download this eBook: 7 Quick and Easy Ways for Get Media Visibility.
Debbie Leven is a PR Coach who works with small businesses and entrepreneurs to help them get visibility via media coverage and guest blogging opportunities.
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Please also check out a previous blog of ours listing @e_nation's Top 55 small business journalists. Enjoy!