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Guest

Eight Tips to Pitch Media Better on Twitter

By: Guest | December 1, 2010 | 
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Guest post by Maya Wasserman, a senior account executive at Bailey Gardiner.

The continued proliferation of social media has changed how the PR industry interacts with and pitches the media. These days, the media are flocking to Twitter in droves, and the platform presents a new opportunity for PR pros to connect with journalists and bloggers. However, pitching there has its own set of rules and best practices. Following are my tips on how to successfully pitch media on Twitter.

  1. Develop and strengthen your online brand first. Before you pitch anyone, you want to be seen as a credible and influential source. Do you engage often with your followers? Do you share interesting and valuable information with your community? Twitter is a place to engage and converse. If you look like a spammer or like you’re using it to stalk media, you probably won’t be successful.
  2. Find the actual journalist, rather than the publication. This takes time and research. There are a few good resources for finding media, such as MediaOnTwitter, and more publications are listing their staff’s Twitter handles in the publication. Twitter lists are another good resource for finding media.
  3. Build a relationship first. Journalists are much more likely to accept a pitch from a PR person they already have a relationship with. Begin building a relationship by retweeting them, replying to their questions, and commenting on their blog posts or articles. Twitter is a great place to become a resource for media, and many journalists discuss stories they’re working on or areas of interest there, so listen and learn first.
  4. The same standard PR best practices apply here, too. Don’t pitch journalists off topic. Personalize pitches for each reporter. Proofread your tweets for spelling and grammar. Avoid buzzwords.
  5. Brevity is not only key, it’s necessary. You only have 140 characters to sell your client, so use them well. I find that fitting my pitch into 140 characters is a good exercise in simplifying and focusing on what’s most important.
  6. Use PitchEngine. PitchEngine is a great tool to share the rest of the details, images, and video that you can’t fit into those 140 characters.
  7. DM when possible. Once you have built enough of a relationship with the journalist, it is likely that they will be following you back. If so, DM your pitch. If not, @replying works, too, but remember that your pitch will be out there for all to see.
  8. It helps if the client you are pitching is on Twitter, too. Use your client’s Twitter handle in your pitch so the journalist can follow that handle, too, and begin building a relationship with the brand directly.

Pitching media on Twitter is like pitching media anywhere else: It’s not easy. It takes research, a smart and relevant pitch, and impeccable PR and writing skills. Have you had any successes pitching media on Twitter? How did you do it?

Maya Wasserman is a senior account executive at Bailey Gardiner. She is also blog manager for the agency’s Don’t Drink the Koolaid blog.

42 comments
MDay
MDay

Hi Maya,

Do you recommend using a delegated PR account that represents the company for which you are working for? Or do you suggest pitching on your personal account (so long as it's professional and clean)?

balemar
balemar

Good use of the DM to pitch. I would stay away from the @ reply though. Most journalists don't want to touch something that's already been covered or revealed on the internet. Checking out Media on Twitter and PitchEngine! Thank you so much for sharing Maya! :)

ginidietrich
ginidietrich moderator

Maya, thank you so much for contributing to Spin Sucks! I'm sorry you have to be exposed to some of the crazies (cough, @HowieG ), but the info you've provided is fantastic! I keep thinking about @blogdash and, while it won't help you pitch reporters on Twitter, it will (to @Thomasscott point) help you find the right bloggers who you can then develop relationships with on Twitter. Maybe that's a part two guest post for you!? Also, high five @bgindra for me and tell her I miss her!

Howie Goldfarb
Howie Goldfarb

I do some PR for a client and really glad they now have a pro helping because it is so different than marketing. That said I was pretty successful in my efforts. But no one's PR is in jeopardy due to me =) Saving this list thank you!

mayaBY
mayaBY

Thanks Jon, glad I could help!

JonHearty
JonHearty

Thanks @mayaBY for this useful post. I haven't heard of PitchEngine and am definitely going to check it out. Social media has created new rules for communicating, and I'm grateful to get some perspective on the PR side of things.

charlotteulvros
charlotteulvros

Thanks for the post. Interesting and many good ideas.

If you like Pitch Enigine, you might also like MyNewsdesk. Here you can, apart from publish/share news release, blogposts, photos, videos, actually invite your most important influencers/journalists to follow your company so that continously can see all the news in your or your client's company. That way you strenthen and extend your existing network of influencers, while also gaining new ones as your news are uploaded automatically to your chosen media platforms and search engines etc. Feel free to give it a try. Would be interesting to hear your opinion.

mayaBY
mayaBY

Hi Thomas, You could use your blog to expand on information for your pitch, too. I like PitchEngine because it makes sharing info, images and video really easy and the site gets great SEO.

Thomasscott
Thomasscott

Nice post - we use blogs to link to rather than pitch engine. What's the pitch engine advantage?

mayaBY
mayaBY

@MDay I use my personal account, but my bio clearly states who I am and where I work. As I mention in my post, just make sure you have a strong online brand and a credible account before you start pitching. If you use your personal account solely for personal reasons, you may not want to use it for pitching. If you do use it professionally, I think it is fine to use it for pitching purposes, too.

DavidSpinks
DavidSpinks

@MDay I've found that using an email with the company name is more effective.

mayaBY
mayaBY

@balemar I agree you don't want to reveal too much via @ reply, but there have been times I have had to share just a glimpse of what I want to pitch in order to get a response (for example, category/industry of client or which of their beats/upcoming stories my client fits into). But I definitely agree that once you get into the nitty gritty of the pitch, it is best to take it offline.

DavidSpinks
DavidSpinks

@mayaBY @ginidietrich Thanks for spreading the word Gini. You're the jam.

We are actually going to allow you to see all the tweets coming from your lists and respond from blogdash, so you if you want to actually pitch them on twitter, you can.

As far as actually pitching on twitter, I've found that it's not the best method to pitch them via a reply.

What I'll usually do is interact for a while, then drop them a reply that just says, "hey, was hoping to run an idea for a post by you...mind if I DM or email"? Then you actually explain what you're hoping to achieve in the email or DM.

Pitching publicly on twitter through a reply can just be awkward for everyone.

mayaBY
mayaBY

@ginidietrich Thanks Gini, I will check Blogdash out! And yes, it could just inspire a part two...

charlotteulvros
charlotteulvros

@DavidSpinks Good question. Well so far when we have asked around there is an interest from journalists. Time is of a shortage and although journalists do get a lot of info - we all know that it might not be relevant for them. Today, when everybody is a publisher, good stories will also be harder to find as anyone can share and spread them. The public tend to be first at an increasing speed.
Even journalists will have to build their own brand and chase the good stories. We even know of journalists that brand their own Facebook pages to reach out to the public asking for good stories. Why? Well time is always an issue, resources but mainly to get the story first before it is spread.
Companies can only "pitch" the journalists if they said they want the information.

If we can provide a possibility to connect companies and influencers like journalists on our news exchange site it will be a win-win. Especially as this relationship can be exclusive if both parties wishes ie on their own terms. The feature is designed to give both parties the possibility to exchange and share information, experiences, and knowledge effectively, whether they want this to happen publicly or privately. Our goal is to eventually replace the rigid distribution lists and move toward a relationship based "pitch".

DavidSpinks
DavidSpinks

@charlotteulvros Sounds like what flowtown is working on. Why would the influencers/journalists want to follow a company's pitches?

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