There might be some PR folks out there thinking “hell no” when they see that question because it’s not necessarily the traditional way to conduct PR outreach, but Twitter can definitely be a useful tool for pitching the media.
Journalists are there
Most journalists are on Twitter, so it makes sense to communicate with them wherever they’re present. Journalists are people just like the rest of us, meaning that they probably respond faster to @ replies and Twitter DMs than their overloaded inboxes with PR pitches galore.
If you know who you want to target, you can search for their Twitter handle specifically. If you’re not sure, you can use tools like http://mediaontwitter.com to see a list of thousands of journalists’ Twitter handles.
Communicating with a journalist via Twitter is an obvious way to show that you’re not sending out an email blast. It’s personalized and relevant to the individual journalist, which makes things much more efficient for both parties.
You have to keep it short and sweet
The beauty of 140 characters is that you have to get to the point. Let’s face it: no one has time (or wants to) read through paragraph after paragraph in an email. With Twitter, you have to be concise and get the crux of the message out there. It’s a great way to gauge interest too. If a journalist wants to hear more, then you can follow up via email.
You get to learn about the journalist
Twitter enables you to see what a journalist is interested in/cares about, which means you can 1) provide a more relevant, individualized pitch, and 2) cultivate a relationship. Not everything has to be about the PR pitch—maybe you’ll find that you have something in common with them. Learning about a journalist will go a long way in building that relationship which ultimately makes your PR outreach more effective.
Another way to see what journalists are talking about on Twitter is to check out http://journalisttweets.com/.
It shows your effort to engage
Going along with the point I made above, using Twitter for media outreach also shows your effort to engage. You had to take the time to do your homework on the journalist and then cultivate the relationship. Your extra effort will not go unnoticed and will most likely be reciprocated in some capacity.
Wouldn’t you be much more willing to work with someone who took the time to seek you out and pitch you on things that are truly relevant to you?
The reason that Twitter is a useful tool for PR outreach boils down to this: At the end of the day, we’re all people and that’s how we want to be treated. Twitter enables the PR-journalist dynamic to become more like an actual relationship.
That’s my two cents on why Twitter is useful for PR outreach, but if you’re looking for some tips on pitching the media via Twitter I highly suggest you read this blog post written yesterday by Maya Wasserman.
What do you think? PR pros, have you pitched journalists on Twitter?
(Image borrowed from http://www.kevintylersmith.com)