How to Pitch To a Journalist Through Smart Use of Social Media

Business.com / PR / Last Modified: February 22, 2017

How to use various social media platforms to successfully pitch your story to journalists.

Social media has emerged to be a powerful platform to connect brands with influencers that include journalists.

More than 96 percent of journalists engage on social media every day according to a study.

Moreover, about 92 percent of journalists are considered to be on LinkedIn.

So by pitching it right on social media, you can spread the word about your business and attract the attention of the right bunch of people.

Social media has revolutionized the way journalists cover news and source stories, so by pitching journalists on various social platforms, you can effectively spread the message. However, you must take a nuanced approach to unpleasant avoid PR mistakes.

Even though social media offers excellent opportunities for PR professionals to pitch their stories to journalists, only 13 percent of them are pitching on social media.

A large number of journalists prefer email pitches, but social media can be effectively leveraged to pitch a journalist. How? Keep reading.

Related Article:Determining Which Social Media Platforms Your Business Should Focus On

Facebook

More and more people are using social media to get news, according to July 2015 study from Pew Research Center. Among the 2,000 participants, 63 percent agreed they depend on Facebook and Twitter for updates on various national events and political issues. Percentage of people using Facebook for news has risen from 47 percent in 2013 to 63 percent in 2015.

Even though Facebook has many non-social uses, you must be very careful when using Facebook to pitch journalists. Most people, including journalists, don’t use Facebook for professional reasons. Since people engage with friends and family on Facebook, maintaining and respecting a certain level of privacy is always appreciated.

So unless you know a journalist personally, avoid using Facebook for pitches. If you have to use this social platform for pitching journalists, be sure you follow them (instead of sending friend requests) and share their stories, to catch attention. Once you have established a good relationship, you can consider pitching them.

One more word of caution. Avoid using Facebook messaging to pitch stories. If you try messaging people you are not friends with, your message will be sent to the "other" messages folder, which will not get any attention. 

Twitter

Twitter is more news centric, so this is one of the best platforms to pitch a journalist. The Pew Research study mentioned earlier also reveals that Twitter users engage far less often than Facebook users, but when there is something newsworthy going on (such as a national crisis, a political gaffe, etc.) they become active on Twitter.

Twitter can be a great place to interact with influencers and journalists since they consider their Twitter accounts to be partially professional. So by pitching stories that are in line with their interests, you can attract attention. So, if you want to use Twitter to pitch journalists, here are some dos and don’ts that you must follow:

  • Journalists receive hundreds of pitches every day, so be very careful about your approach. Include a link to some news or mention "@your company name". A journalist is more likely to reply he is interested in the story you share or recognizes your company.
  • Never ask a journalist to share his/ her email address, if you are not following them. Also never ask any journalist to follow you, just because you want to send DMs.
  • Some journalists are more popular on Twitter than other network, so it is quite natural that reaching out to the ones with a lesser number of pitches and messages will be much easier. But never make the mistake of using one journalist to reach out to their superiors.
  • Check the profile of the journalist (you are considering) thoroughly, so that you don’t ask for information that is already mentioned

Here are some ways that will make your Twitter pitches more successful:

  • Complete your Twitter profile.
  • Establish yourself as a thought leader in your niche.
  • Engage with journalists in your space regularly. If they have shared something recently, reply it with a valuable tweet to improve the value of the story. But avoid overdoing things. Reply more than once only when required.

Related Article: 20 Social & Digital Trends That Will Impact Marketing in 2016

LinkedIn

LinkedIn ranks as the third most preferred platform for PR pitches, according to a survey. This means you can successfully pitch journalists on this platform. However, the amount of engagement and time-on-site is much lower compared to other social platforms, so you must ensure that the journalists you are considering to pitch are active on LinkedIn.

LinkedIn being a professional network, you can expect people to connect with each other professionally. However, you must avoid personal engagement or off topic discussions. Here is how you can successfully pitch on LinkedIn:

  • Add the journalists to your connection and obtain their contact information (such as email ID) from their profiles.
  • Check their interests and groups they have joined to understand whether your pitches will interest them or not.
  • Comment on stories shared by them to get noticed. You can also share news or stories in line with the stories shared by the journalists to add more value.
  • You can also consider messaging them privately to engage privately. 

Instagram

Instagram is an amazing platform to leverage visual content and it is the perfect place to discover people’s interests and priorities. Being an open network, it is easier to interact with people you don’t know in Instagram.

You can use this platform to build personal relationships and leverage them on other platforms. You can send DMs to people who are not following you, so you can engage with journalists who would be interested in stuff you share.

However, make sure you restrict yourself to sharing pictures only. So you can share pictures of products or items whose story you want to pitch and grow interest among journalists. Once people start liking your shares, you can ask for their email IDs to engage privately.

Related Article: The 4 Most Important Trends from Social Media Marketing World 2016

Some Social Media Do’s and Don’ts

Engaging journalists on various social platforms is much easier, if you know exactly what has to be done. Some of the rules remain the same when leveraging the different social platforms for pitching journalists.

Here’s a quick look at the dos and don’ts of pitching journalists through social media:

  • Completing the social profile.
  • Checking contact details to find email ids before asking.
  • Customizing pitches according to the information gathered from several other social channels.
  • Sharing, commenting or replying to similar stories shared by the journalists.
  • Show how your story will value others and not you.
  • Establish yourself as a subject expert.
  • Never pitch a journalist until you know him (or are friends with) the journalist.
  • It is always better to pitch on professional networks (like LinkedIn) rather than personal networks (like Facebook).
  • Be sensitive to private issues.
  • Email pitches are the best option. Refrain from pitching on personal email IDs.
  • Following up is alright, but never overdo.

Conclusion

Social media offers many opportunities when pitching journalists, but that does not always mean you have to contact them directly. You can use social media to understand their interests, priorities and preferences to create a perfect pitch that will grab immediate attention.

By using social media smartly, you can build personal relationships with journalists and win their trust, and encourage them to spread the word about your products/services among their networks. So choose the right social platforms and leverage your brand visibility.

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