How to pitch a journalist on Twitter (and get real results)

How to pitch a journalist on Twitter (and get real results)

Muck Rack is one of many resources PR professionals can use to learn how to better pitch reporters on Twitter.

Depending on who you ask, social media is either a blessing or a curse.

While in some ways, sites like Twitter make connecting with others easier, it has also certainly thrown a wrench into that carefully cultivated relationship between reporters and PR pros. Twitter can be a great resource for reporters to find targeted sources, but it can also open the door to being bombarded with untargeted (and unwanted) pitches.

As a freelance writer for B2B publications and blogs and someone who has done PR for local organizations, I’ve been on both sides of the spectrum. I have found that a balanced, careful approach can help PR pros cultivate and grow relationships with reporters via Twitter that can lead to positive exposure for clients.

Wondering how to craft your own relationships with reporters via Twitter? Here are some tips to get you started:

  • Find and follow. Just like traditional pitching, the first step is to find reporters (and freelancers) who cover your company or client’s industry. With any luck, they are on Twitter, too (journalists along with PR pros were among early social media adapters. After all, that's one of the main reasons Muck Rack got started!) Start following them and retweet or comment on their postings. Go slow–don’t follow a reporter and then immediately direct message them a story pitch. Another thing to do is to promote their stories in a genuine and friendly way. For example, you could tweet something like: “Great story by @Reporter” and then a link to their story.
  • Pay attention. Now that you've found reporters covering your industry, pay attention to what they’re doing online and continue to nurture the relationship with retweets and replies. Sometimes, journalists use social media to send out a request for sources. If a reporter does send out a request for sources, be responsive even if not your field of expertise. Help point them in the right direction to a source they potentially could use so the reporter begins to view you as a go-to person when he or she needs help.
  • Make the pitch. You’ve followed a reporter for a while and he or she has grown used to seeing you on Twitter via retweets and some conversation. Now’s the time to make your move! There are a couple of different ways to do this. If in the same town, you can direct message them and ask them to coffee to get to know them better and to find out what kinds of stories they’re looking for. Or, if you are trying to raise awareness about your client or company, send a low pressure message like “Loved the story on X. I work with construction clients. Let me know if you ever want to connect on a source.” Another tactic is making a direct pitch like “Loved the story on X. I have a great story idea on X. How can I follow up with more details?” Always keep the pitch light, friendly and pressure-free.
  • Follow-up. In a perfect world, the reporter will message you back and want to know more, but we know that’s not always the case. Give it a day or so and when you see a reporter is online (for example, they just tweeted something), do an easy follow-up either via email or direct message and ask “Did you get a chance to think about my story idea? Let me know what you think.” With any luck, you’ll get a response this time. If not, move on to another idea or continue to offer up clients as possible sources for stories the reporter may already be working on.
  • Don’t overdo it. Don’t send pitches every day...or every week for that matter. You don’t want to be one of those PR people. You need to become a trusted go-to person for reporters so they know they can rely on you if they need help, so only reach out when you know this potential story idea is perfect for this specific reporter.
  • Be consistent. You want to build a relationship with reporters and keep it going even if you don’t have another story idea to immediately pitch. Continue to respond to reporters via Twitter even if it’s a retweet or “I really liked your story.” But remember to be genuine! Reporters can spot someone being fake from a mile away.
  • Don’t forget the freelancers. There are a lot of freelance writers on Twitter and they too are a great resource to reach out to via Twitter. They are often looking for story sources and ideas to pitch to their editors.

Looking for even more tips? Muck Rack recently spoke with PR professionals to learn more about their Twitter best practices.

Twitter is just one way to pitch and different reporters prefer different methods; it’s essential to find out what channel they prefer. Remember: not every reporter is going to want to be pitched over Twitter! By making the right moves you can cultivate a solid relationship with reporters via Twitter and gain solid coverage for your company or clients.

How have you used Twitter to pitch a reporter? Share your tips and success stories in the comments below!

MaryBeth Matzek is a freelance writer specializing in business publications and blogs. You can find her on Twitter or on her blog.

Editor's Note: Using Twitter to reach out to journalists? Muck Rack, of course, is a fantastic resource to see what journalists are talking about on Twitter (if we do say so ourselves). Muck Rack Pro offers additional services that allow you to build media lists, send direct pitches and set up instant alerts to be the first to know when a journalist tweets about something you want to know about! More details about Muck Rack Pro here.

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