When people started working from home to avoid gatherings during the pandemic, few expected the practice to impact media relations work. But the need to socially distance has sent journalists to undisclosed locations, working from their living rooms, basements, and even backyards, just like the rest of us. Office phones ring forever. Newsroom lines are answered by security guards. And emails pile up.
So how do you reach journalists if their newsrooms are empty? Consider Twitter.
The social media platform was already popular before it became ground zero for breaking political commentary, yet as a result, is now monitored even more closely by journalists looking for news tips and information to guide their reporting.
Here’s how you can reach reporters on Twitter:
Consider sending them a pitch through direct messages, also known as DMs. Like tweets, keep your pitches very short. Limit the message to no more than 3 to 4 sentences. This is not an email pitch. Get the journalist’s attention then transition the conversation to email or a phone call.
Know who you are pitching. Monitor journalist tweets for information about their interests, story beats, and recent reports. Make sure they are the best fit for your pitch before you pitch them.
Set up alerts to monitor key reporters’ tweets to ensure you don’t miss an opportunity to share your story ideas when appropriate. Also, reporter beats frequently change. Tracking journalists on your list will help you know when they’ve been reassigned or changed jobs.
Master the art of “quote tweets.” This involves retweeting an article written by a journalist but then adding comments to provide value by way of a different perspective about what was published. The person who posted the original tweet will get a notification that it was “quote tweeted” by you, over time potentially helping to build a relationship with the reporter. To do this, click the retweet button on a post, indicated as arrows in a circle. Two options will appear: quote tweet or retweet. Select quote tweet, then enter your comment before sending it.
Stay top of mind by liking and retweeting journalist posts.
When you are included in a story, consider retweeting the piece to your Twitter Or post a link to the story in a new tweet, making sure to tag the reporter so they can see you’re engaged on the story.
Interaction, engagement, and sharing timely, relevant news via Twitter can help elevate your relationships with journalists, improve the success of your story pitches, and establish you or your organization as thought leaders in your issue space.
By Robert Johnson, Strategic Communications Officer, Riester Public Affairs, Washington, D.C.