In tech PR, Twitter is as valuable an asset as Cision or Vocus. It’s a strong tool for staying up-to-date on what reporters are writing about and interested in. What it’s not? A tool for explicit/direct PR pitches.
Despite articles that say otherwise, when was the last time you saw a colleague or company successfully pitch media on Twitter or social, in general? You probably can’t recall a single example. It’s that rare. In fact, it’s safe to say that the mishaps—which are often very public—are much more frequent and common.
So, for PR, how can Twitter actually help?
We can use it to build relationships with media and master the “soft sell.” Instead of pitching, demonstrate that you know a reporter’s beat and are interested in their writing. This helps when you open Outlook or pick up the phone for your actual pitch efforts. They’ll be familiar with you.
But how does one build relationships on Twitter? Here are 3 tips that I live by.
Show you’re paying attention. This one is simple enough—retweet a reporter’s articles/tweets and favorite their content regularly. This will put you on their radar and make them familiar with you.
Don’t just RT; start a conversation. Whenever you tweet an article, be sure to include the author’s handle (if you don’t know it, find it), as well as a POV on their piece. If you agree with it, let them know. If you disagree, ask questions. There’s no better way to show that you know a reporter’s beat. You’ll also learn a lot about the writer’s POV for future pitches.
Share information. Another way to show you’re following a given reporter is to share information that’s relevant to their beat or personal passion. This should be totally distinct from a client pitch unless it’s a truly great fit.
Don’t focus only on the rockstars. It’s great to engage with a journalist or blogger with 100K followers, but don’t ignore those who are less known. Their feeds tend to be less cluttered, and there’s often a greater chance for a real dialogue.
Not everything has to be business. I find that the most memorable tweets are often the funniest/oddest. That’s why sometimes being silly or quirky is your best bet. In fact, my most meaningful interactions with reporters have come from somewhat bold tweets with an odd remark or funny GIF. This works if you give it some thought and think through the idea. If they respond, great. If they don’t, no harm done.