Debbie Johnson

How Live Tweeting “Scandal” Helped Me Get a Job

By: Debbie Johnson | July 19, 2017 | 

using Twitter to networkI’ve been an admirer of Judy Smith and her crisis communications work for years.

So, when I learned that Shonda Rhimes created a show based on her, I couldn’t wait to check it out.

I tuned into that first episode of Scandal and was intrigued enough to keep watching.

I’m not sure when I started tweeting during the show, but my social media antics on Thursday nights soon led me to a group of local women who also watched and tweeted Scandal.

Inspired by the show’s crew of loyal Pope’ers, we christened ourselves “Gladiators” and started chatting via Twitter on non-Scandal days.

One of the Gladiators was the woman who would become my boss.

She had recently been elected to a political office that had been occupied by someone else for 30 years.

There was a lot of work to do, including hiring her own team.

The last position she posted was a newly created one: Director of communications.

The timing was perfect.

I had been in my current job for several years and was looking for a new opportunity.

I had all the skills and experience she wanted: Media relations, writing, public affairs, social media management.

The role sounded like a good move, so I applied and eventually got hired.

While I was qualified for the job, I know that live tweeting Scandal was a big help in getting me there.

It all comes back to a basic tenet of public relations: Relationship building.

Using Twitter to Network

I used our common enjoyment of a television show to build a relationship, which in turn made sure she not only reviewed my resume when I applied for the job, but also interviewed me.

Building a relationship got me through the door, and my skills and experience got me the job.

Twitter is about building relationships.

If used properly, it can be a big asset to a public relations professional’s career.

When I first started my public relations career, I had to depend on introductions from others to meet new people and build relationships because social media didn’t exist.

While I still get introduced to other people by mutual colleagues, using Twitter allows me to be more proactive in my networking.

I’ve met many intelligent PR pros via Twitter, and they are always quick to respond to a question or discuss current PR events.

I’m also using Twitter to network and communicate with journalists and find story ideas.

Thanks to Twitter, my professional network is much larger and more diverse than it was when I just depended on in real life networking.

Twitter not just helps me professionally, it has also been a big help to me personally.

Building Relationships on Twitter

Whenever I travel to a new city, one of the first things I do is ask the Twitterverse for dinner and entertainment recommendations.

One of my great loves is baseball, and I’ve bonded with both fans of my hometown St. Louis Cardinals and fans of the game in general.

I’ve also met some people who have become dear friends, and that community I created was a huge comfort to me when I lost my father to cancer.

And it’s all based on relationship building.

So, how do you create a Twitter network?

You get out of Twitter what you put into it, and that means you need to put in some time and effort.

You need to find people to follow.

The easiest way to do that when starting out is by looking at those Twitter recommends for you to follow.

Another easy way is to search an interest.

Whenever I look for new public relations professionals to follow, I search “public relations” and see who comes back.

I also look at the follows of other Twitter members whom I enjoy interacting with and add to my follows.

Some of those I tweet with regularly have also introduced me to others.

How to Network on Twitter

Recently, a fellow PR professional introduced me to a colleague of hers because we had both tweeted about enjoying Bruce Springsteen’s autobiography.

That fellow Springsteen fan is now one of my favorites to engage with on Twitter.

We tweet to each other about both public relations and mutual interests such as music and baseball.

It takes time to grow a Twitter network, but the rewards are great.

It’s not enough to just create an account and follow people.

You need to engage with them by responding to their tweets.

You also need to post your own content.

There is nothing worse than someone who creeps on Twitter, meaning they read other people’s tweets without responding to them or without tweeting their own content.

Don’t be afraid to join a conversation or start one of your own.

A simple “Does anyone have any Netflix recommendations?” tweet can yield some great conversations, not to mention some great viewing recommendations.

Using Twitter to Network and Engage PR Students

A public relations professor I follow uses Twitter to engage her students outside of the classroom.

They post articles and content with a class hashtag, which their professor shares with her Twitter network.

I enjoy this content, and whenever I see an article that I think might interest her students, I tweet her a link so she can share it with them.

She has invited me to be a guest speaker at several of her classes, and I always enjoy the opportunity to engage with future PR professionals and answer their questions about the business.

Again, all because of building relationships on Twitter.

The Bad Should Not Overshadow the Good

We hear a lot these days about Twitter trolls and harassment and people using social media platforms for horrible activities.

Unfortunately, that happens, and it can get pretty ugly.

But we must not let the bad overshadow the good.

Twitter is still a great place to network and build relationships, and as I proved, even find a job.

As for me, I am still live tweeting Scandal on Thursday nights, and so is my boss.

The upcoming season will be the show’s last, so it will be our last for live tweeting, as well.

But don’t worry. We’ll still be on Twitter. As Olivia Pope says, “It’s handled.”

About Debbie Johnson

Debbie Johnson is a veteran communications professional with a background in public affairs, media relations and crisis management. When she's not working, she can be found reading a good novel, writing in her journals, or training for her upcoming marathon.

  • Jennifer Starkey

    This is why I have always thought that Twitter accounts need to have some personal tweets – I mean, not too personal, of course – but you need to tweet a little about your life and hobbies or people think you’re a robot. And ultimately people want to do business with people that they respect – but also people that they enjoy being around.

    • Debbie Johnson

      We are people outside of work, and I don’t think there is harm in sharing that.

  • paulakiger

    Yes! I love this and agree. Twitter has its flaws for sure but for me the relationship and networking gains have far exceeded the irritating points.

    • Debbie Johnson

      I also use it for professional development. It’s not always possible to attend conferences, so I find it valuable when people share content when they attend.

  • OK, but we need to have a serious conversation. Do you think Scandal has jumped the shark? I mean, how many times can we see two powerful people in such romantic angst?

    • Debbie Johnson

      I do. I liked the show much better when they focused on PR and client cases. It should have ended a few seasons ago. I think that’s typical of Shonda Rhimes. Grey’s Anatomy is still on and they’re recycling storylines. That also should have ended several seasons ago.

      My favorite Shonda show is actually Private Practice, the Grey’s spinoff. Addison Montgomery is my favorite character.

      • I feel like I don’t have to see Scandal. Hearing you passionately debating the series, it’s a lot more interesting. 🙂

        • Debbie Johnson

          Ha! I didn’t include this in the post because I couldn’t make it work, but a couple of years ago my boss and I attended a lecture with Judy Smith at our local library and told her how we met tweeting the show. It was hilarious.

      • I LOVED Private Practice.

        • Debbie Johnson

          I do, too. Addison is my spirit animal.

  • I loved Twitter from the very beginning. It’s still the only platform where you don’t have to ask for permission to follow people or interact with them. It’s (in my humble opinion) the best social channel PR pros and anyone for that matter has at their disposal to grow their network (in a meaningful way), connect with industry experts and journalists, find out the latest news, etc. It’s fun and easy to use.

    That said, it all comes down to common sense and not being spammy or stalking people.

    For brands Twitter is a great tool for customer service, for building relationships with their audience and for one-on-one interactions. What other platform out there offers that in an easy-to-use way?

    Such a great article, Debbie! Thank you for sharing your experience with us and for showing that building meaningful relationships is key for career success.

    • Debbie Johnson

      Thank you for the opportunity to share my story and thoughts. I enjoyed writing it.

      Another way I use Twitter is as a news service. I get most of my news there now, and I use it at work to break stories and announcements. We’ve seen a decrease in our media outlets (as many cities have), so it’s been helpful to use to share information with stakeholders.

      That said, I’m always careful when I share news content, particularly breaking news content, because I don’t want to share bad or false information.