Fifteen Ways to Use Twitter to Build an Army of Adoring Journalists

By: Guest | March 22, 2011 | 

Patrick Garmoe, serves as content and social media strategist for PureDriven, a digital marketing strategy company in Duluth, Minnesota.

I spent 10 years as a reporter in the BT (Before Twitter) era. Now as a social media strategist and public relations professional, I’ve found Twitter to be my primary and most successful method of building and maintaining relationships with reporters. It’s brought myself and clients I work with tens of thousands of dollars in free press coverage.

One public relations agency I work with even grew out of a connection made on Twitter. And that’s perhaps the main reason I advise every public relations professional to become a regular. Just like real life, you communicate with a large circle of professionals, but the bulk of the benefits come from just a handful of clients or connections you make over months and years.

I consider Twitter the tool that delivers tangible value in great gulps, so long as you commit to it for a year.

Skeptical? Here’s exactly how I use it. This will work both for one-person shops and advertising agencies trying to build a following to use for clients.

How to Find Journalists on Twitter

  1. Find the reporters by searching through Muckrack or Media on Twitter.
  2. Peruse “contact us” pages for your local media outlets, to track down Twitter names (@name) of reporters.Be Helpful Especially When it Doesn’t Help You Directly
  3. Watch for tweets asking for help like the one below, especially on deadline. That’s the quickest way to strike up a relationship with a reporter.
  4. Monitor and post with the hashtags of the town or topic you or your client is involved in. Even if the reporters don’t post there, they monitor the channel for interesting ideas to create stories and nuggets about.
  5. Say something nice about a story the reporter wrote or aired, making sure you add the reporter’s Twitter name to the comment. When possible, link to the story.
  6. Retweet their tweets, especially when they’re linking to their stories.
  7. Offer to connect them to experts you know who you think will genuinely help them on their beats.
  8. Thank them via Twitter for covering an event you attended, especially if you were able to chat with the reporter. This helps solidify the new contact.
  9. Look out for story ideas for them, not just big stories but follow up pieces on stories they’ve already done.
  10. Thank them especially when they do write about an idea you pitched.
  11. Take note of something in the reporter’s Twitter bio when sending an initial tweet, so the journalist knows you took a moment to learn about them.
  12. Extend the relationship to other social networks, if they’re more active elsewhere, or get their e-mail – still the end goal.
  13. Congratulate them on their birthdays or other news they tweet about themselves.
  14. Highlight them on your own blog.
  15. Now it’s your turn. Please post a way you use Twitter to assist with working with journalists.

Patrick Garmoe, serves as content and social media strategist for PureDriven, a digital marketing strategy company in Duluth, Minnesota. He joined PureDriven in 2010, after 10 years as a journalist at three Midwest newspapers, and now helps clients both receive traditional media attention, and develop social media strategies and campaigns unique to their needs, business models and goals.

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  • ginidietrich

    Hey Patrick! I spoke this morning in Omaha and we had this exact conversation in the form of senior executives developing relationships with journalists on Twitter and by commenting on their stories. It was super nice to have this list to put up on the screen and say, “SEE! Like this!” So thank you for that. Perfect timing.

  • Garmoe

    @ginidietrich Thanks so much Gini! Glad to be able to provide an example. Also funny you should mention Omaha. That’s my hometown! Yes, I think Twitter is terribly undervalued by people trying to get traditional media attention.

  • ginidietrich

    @Garmoe It is?! I went to Creighton!

  • 3HatsComm

    I always wanted to find better ways to stalk reporters, thanks for the share. 😉 Of course if a reporter uses Twitter to source and share stories, then by all means this is good advice. IMO this only works with those who are 1) truly social via Twitter and 2) do so as part of their job.

    I’ve followed and unfollowed many a dead, dummy, and RSS account for reporters and journalists, probably set up by the media outlet or whatever. Nothing happening, nothing real, just a placeholder account or a means to automate sharing the news feed. Just b/c there’s a Twitter account, doesn’t always mean the writer or editor really uses it. Let’s say they do use it; I’ve followed many who tweet a variety of things, not always about work, their beats and stories. A few reporters and journalists I see use Twitter to curate news, chat with friends… almost anything BUT work, promoting their stories or publications. So maybe they don’t care if you RT their story; guessing that MMV.

    And as a general rule, I’m wary of pitching via Twitter. If someone asks for a source, of course I reply. But a pitch, out there in the stream IDK – often the reporters and journalists are looking for a new story, a different angle, some type of exclusive. Perhaps when the relationship is developed, you pitch via DM if you can get them to follow back.

    This IS good advice, and I have had success replying to tweeted inquiries, it’s just going to depend on the journalist. FWIW.

  • Garmoe

    @ginidietrich Seriously? So did I! Class of ’98 (Man that sounds old). When did you graduate? Also lived in Chicago where I think you’re at. Worked as a reporter for the Daily Herald. Many of my friends currently work for the Sun Times or Tribune.

  • Garmoe

    @3HatsComm Thanks for the comments. I agree that it’s hard to actually pitch via Twitter. Frankly, it’s hard to do anything on Twitter beyond launching a new relationship. Twitter is really the tool I use to follow and begin building relationships online, that build into DMs and E-mails and phone calls. I also agree on the dummy accounts. You have to click through to see how often they post, what they post, and whether they ever respond. But that’s the kind of due diligence that I think most people would assume they’d have to do. I think the moral is if you want to connect with reporters, then get in the mix and actually connect via Twitter if possible. Social in general is the easiest way to go from zero to something. IMO.


  • 3HatsComm

    @Garmoe ITA, it’s just they gotta be social and not everyone is. I also think some journalists are hep to our game, don’t want to be pitched via their blogs and Twitter in the name of ‘social’ when it’s business and they no better. I agree Twitter is a starting, introduction point.. the relationship building does happen elsewhere via blogs, emails, calls.

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  • tressalynne

    Most surveys and studies I’ve read indicate that journalists do not want to be pitched via social media; however, if one follows your tactics and is helpful (without it being self-beneficial), then hopefully, that relationship will blossom – and move to other platforms. Twitter is a great place to connect and build rapport. Good stuff!

  • Garmoe

    @tressalynne Thanks! Yes, I don’t think reporters want to be pitched period. But my point is mainly that Twitter is the best way to build a relationship so you’re not pitching a reporter. You’re just passing along a good idea to a reporter who is alway on the lookout for good stories.

  • simplynonna

    I think Twitter can serve as a way to inspire the truth in all things. Like a teacher, a reporter has a very powerful job. In the regular press it may be hard to get your copy through the editor, but the www allows for instant access & publishing. & Twitter can allow for real time interaction (as long as u have the smarts to smell the truth!Great job! Thanks 😉

  • ElenaVerlee

    Patrick, great post and roadmap for anyone wanting to have a specific strategy on Twitter. There are many a reporter that won’t return an email but will engage online – and I’ll take that as a start to building a relationship. Hey, you and I met that way, LOL. Another one of your fabulous articles to print out and stick on the wall.

  • Garmoe

    @simplynonna Thanks for the note!

  • Garmoe

    @simplynonna Thanks for the note!

  • Garmoe

    @ElenaVerlee Too kind! Thanks Elena. I’ve already learned a lot about how to use Twitter effectively, thanks to you!

  • Garmoe

    @ElenaVerlee Too kind! Thanks Elena. I’ve already learned a lot about how to use Twitter effectively, thanks to you!

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  • NancyM.

    These can definitely build a solid relation with reporters. It is all about giving them before asking them for anything. You give them retweets, comments, story ideas and help when they most need it, and then they simply give back when you need them to.

  • MarniBlythe

    Thanks for sharing this. very helpful!

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