Using Twitter for PR

Everyone who is anyone in the industry should be on Twitter by now, or so we are led to believe by the countless blog posts and news articles.

But it’s all well and good being ‘on’ Twitter – but how can it actually help you to build relationships with journalists or get coverage for your clients?

56% said social media was important or somewhat important for reporting and producing stories - Graphic by Cision

The Guardian recently reported that more journalists than ever are using social media as a way to research stories.

 Here’s a few tips to make sure you don’t miss out:

1. Follow the publications you target

Whether it’s national consumer press, trade titles or regional publications and newspapers that you’re interested in, many of them can be found on Twitter, opening up a whole new method of communication and research. Check out the list of Twitter accounts here or search Twitter for publications in your area. Following publications can give you a good idea of what they’re covering and some even use their account as a way of asking for information or interviews.

2. Search effectively

Freelance journalists have been using Twitter for a while now to help them find content for stories. However, it can be a nightmare navigating though Twitter to find the right posts. Many have started using the hash tag #journorequest. Search for this every day on Twitter to make sure you don’t miss any opportunities for your clients.

3. Follow journalists

Follow journalists relevant to your area. Ste Davies (previously PR Blogger) has done an amazing job at compiling a list of UK journalists on Twitter. Don’t expect them to all follow you back though – unfortunately it doesn’t work like that! It’s also worth checking out Muck Rack, which gives easy access to journalist’s latest tweets.

4. Don’t spam

Just because you’re following a journalist or a publication on Twitter doesn’t mean you should spam them and send them links to every press release or feature you write. Use Twitter to listen to them and monitor what they want and how they interact with other users.

5. Make your own Twitter account interesting

Post links to your press releases on your Twitter site and have links through to your company’s website too. If it’s interesting enough then you may just get journalists following you too.

6. Be nice

Building relationships on Twitter is hard and time consuming and its best to start with the journalists you already have a relationship with in the real world. It’s always nice to promote someone’s Twitter account – a good way to do this is ‘Follow Friday’ where people recommend fellow Twitter users to their followers. Check out hash tags #ff or #followfriday to see how it works. This is a bit sneaky but a good way to make first contact with journalists without being overtly sales driven.

7. Pitch carefully

Twitter, in the grand scheme of things is still a fairly new platform for the industry, and it is yet to be decided if pitching stories directly to journalists via this medium is OK or not. Play it by ear and use your PR instinct.

8. List it

A new tool on Twitter is ‘lists’ which allow you to create lists of Twitter users from the same industry, or who tweet about the same topic. It’s a great way to find new Twitter users to follow. EConsultancy has put together a great list of some of the best ones to follow.

9. How not to do it

Another hash tag worth checking out is #PRfail – posts usually written by disgruntled journalists who have been on the receiving end of some bad PRs. Take note – bad PR is talked about, so don’t make the mistakes in the first place!


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