Connecting with journalists

Connecting with Journalists: Dos and don’ts for friending, liking and sharing on social media

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

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How can you be successful with media relations these days? It seems it’s getting harder and harder to get the attention of media contacts and build productive media relationships. Journalists are inundated with email – and email is so 2000 and late anyway.

Before we talk about some new ways of thinking about media relations, let’s remember some of the tried-and-true tips of effective media relations. The foundational tenets still apply: Know your subject matter, do your research and make sure your story idea is soundly newsworthy and fits with the journalist’s subject matter. You have to be willing to give as much if not more than you expect to get.

The same goes for social media. We all know the best practices to engage, but we need to make sure we follow the rules extra carefully when reaching out to media contacts.

Here are dos and don’ts for using social media channels to provide value to journalists:

DO

  • Follow journalists on Twitter and subscribe to their blogs. Follow their media outlets too.
  • Like, share, retweet and comment on articles of interest. Many journalists are evaluated and rewarded on the reach of their stories, so be sure to visit the actual media outlet site as well.
  • Be authentic with comments.
  • Approach the private/direct messaging functionality as a professional work email.
  • Be transparent and ethical in your outreach.
  • Clean up your own social media act if you’re going to be engaging with professional contacts. Avoid posting memes with curse words, political rants or other questionable content.

DON’T

  • Don’t make every social media interaction about a pitch. That’s too self-serving and will quickly be a turnoff.
  • Don’t send unsolicited LinkedIn or Facebook requests unless you really know the journalist or will be working with him/her on a very regular basis.
  • Don’t get too familiar. Maintain a professional demeanor.
  • Don’t get into stalker mode. Dig, dig, dig into the stories, but keep your nose out of their personal lives.

Sure, it takes more time, but isn’t it worth it to increase your chances of success? I’d love to hear your thoughts on and additional tips for using social media to build these relationships. Please comment below.

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