Why you should follow your target reporters on twitter

Rob LynchPR Tips

If you’re not already, I highly suggest following your reporters on Twitter. Our goal is to personally connect with reporters and make it as easy as possible for them to cover our stories. In my PR 101 Workshops for General Assembly Los Angeles, I recommend my attendees spend 80 percent of their time researching what reporters cover. While researching past stories is a good place to start, reporter’s tweets offer  invaluable insight into their coverage area, their needs, their pet peeves, and their personalities.

Here’s why you should follow your target reporters on twitter:

What they do and don’t cover

Big picture, most reporters share their beat coverage (what they cover) in their Twitter bio. On a more granular level, some reporters will let you know specifically what they don’t cover. Some reporters write “year in review” or crystal ball “predictions for the coming year” stories. This reporter covers neither. Don’t waste your time pitching him.

Some reporters receive pitches even though it’s not their area of coverage. When in doubt, check their tweet history.

Editorial Opportunities

Reporters need sources to round out their articles, both in terms of insight and quotes. Some reporters will tweet when they need information. And if you’re a business targeting the UK market, the #journorequest hashtag is particularly useful for identifying potential editorial opportunities and the reporters requesting them, while #mediarequest is helpful in the US.

A warm pitch is easier to sell than a cold one. The next example offers a low hanging fruit opportunity to secure media coverage for your company.

Attending A Tradeshow

If you’re attending a tradeshow, but unsure if a target reporter is attending or not, twitter might help you find out. Tradeshows, in particular, are a great way to meet with reporters. Just know you’re time is limited and you should reach out to them weeks in advance to coordinate an interview because their time quickly fills up.

Contact Preferences

Most reporters want to be contacted via email. Most hate phone call follow ups. What about other social media channels? This former reporter, now freelancer, posted the following. Remember, publicity is a lot like online dating. Build relationships by respecting the reporter’s contact preferences, avoiding a harassment situation and making the relationship a transactional, cover my story at at all costs goal.

Cision is an expensive media list provider service. This reporter is letting the service know she doesn’t like cold call pitches. Most reporters feel the same way, unless it’s breaking news.

Personal Interests

Since our goal is to build personal relationships with reporters, it’s helpful to know their personal interests. In Guy Kawasaki’s book, Enchantment, the former Chief Evangelist for Apple, now tech investor, writes he will read an email if the word “hockey” is in the subject line. He loves hockey and if someone took the time to do the research, he’ll give the email a look. The same goes for reporters. They’re people with interests. If you can tap into that without pandering, you can increase your chances of securing a story.

Follow your target reporters on twitter and you’ll glean invaluable information that will aid in pitching your stories.

Launching a new company, product or service or want to increase your thought leadership through bylines, speaking engagements, and/or content marketing? Contact me to learn how I might help.