Pitching Through Social Media, Yea or Nay?

Do members of the media appreciate pitches through social media?

The reason I thought of this question is because there are PR pros and small biz owners out there who have been told never to pitch through social media sites like Twitter and Facebook, yet there are others who advocate that these mediums are the perfect place for short and sweet pitches.

I took to my favorite Q&A resources for the answer: Twitter, Linkedin Answers, Linkedin Polls, HARO, and Quora. I asked: “If you’re a reporter or member of the media, any media, let me know under what circumstances it’s alright or not alright to pitch you through social media. PR folks, let me know if you’ve had any success from pitching through social media and how.”

What did I find? (Click to enlarge)

Pitching Through Social Media Chart

I received about 80 replies, surprisingly all lengthy paragraphs and chock full of examples of when it is and isn’t right to pitch the media on a social media platform. Successful PR pros who received coverage in national media outlets after sending a one line pitch through Twitter, small biz owners who used HARO to find journalists and connect with them through Facebook, and journalists who love pitches on Twitter but hate being contacted through FB all replied. Below are some of the best answers—which I hope you can use to get some perspective on when and how to pitch through social media correctly:

“Getting pitched via Facebook Messages annoys me, Twitter is less intrusive so I don’t mind it. Email still works best. I’m sure this varies to some degree for every member of the press. There are a few reasons for this: FB is (supposed to be) where you connect with your friends, or, at the very least, people you’ve met before. I don’t want your pitch nestled between the invite to my friend’s birthday party and a photo album my mom just shared.” – Jason Kincaid, writer for TechCrunch

“As long as the journalist you’re pitching to is on Twitter, and uses it regularly, Twitter pitches are fine. I don’t recommend pitching on Facebook. FB is for friends, not for work contacts.” -Cathy Bussey, PRWeek features editor

“Times have obviously changed. I think in the right situation, it can be a great way to reach out. I do, however, think that you have to consider the relationship you have with the editor/producer. I usually do NOT pitch via FB; editors/producers find it very intrusive. As for Twitter – I’ve pitched some people casually with some great responses.”Adri Cowan, PR Pro

“What we should all be seeking — is a higher-level connection with the people we do business with. Business becomes easier and more productive if we learn about one another and develop a mutual respect. So to the extent that you can use social networks to build relationship with journalists, bloggers etc, then do it. But don’t forget the “mutual respect” part. If every message you send a media person contains a pitch, you’ll find yourself unfriended and unfollowed. As it should be. It takes a long time to build the bridge.Bill Sledzik, PR educator, Kent State

“Research the person you’re trying to hit. What’s really important, and has never changed, is trying to figure out who the journalist’s audience is, because that’s who s/he is writing for. If s/he thinks the audience won’t care, you’re not going to get followed up, and the pitch is a waste of both your time. And work out what it is that’s different or useful; I’ve long ago lost count of the number of PR pitches (Twitter and email) that suggest I meet someone basically because they have a pulse, with no indication of what they can add to the stories I’m writing, what insights they bring to the subjects I deal with. So it’s the same old story, really: it’s not the medium, it’s the matter.”Charles Arthur, tech editor for The Guardian

“PRs often contact me through Twitter with ideas and I find it very effective. The two main reasons are:
1. It forces PRs to be succinct. As a News of the World journalist, if a story can’t be summarized in 140 characters it’s a clear indicator it won’t make the paper.
2. I get many hundreds of emails a day. However, I get no more than one or two direct messages on Twitter a day. This means pitches stand out more if they are made through Twitter.
Of course, that’s not to say all stories – or even the majority – should be pitched through social media.
But there’s no reason that PRs can’t use Twitter in an effective professional manner.”
Sophy Ridge, consumer correspondent, News of the World

I believe pitching through social media is about the only way to get anything done and there are rules that must be followed–mostly courtesy and understanding that this isn’t “cool” so much as a way to communicate.” -Richard Laermer, The Bad Pitch Blog

“As long as the person who is doing the pitching has taken time to see what my beat is (I think that’s a common courtesy). I may not be able to write about it, but I will always appreciate it, and it may find its way into a different piece, perhaps on a larger trend. –Menachem Wecker, writer, Houston Chronicle, Huffington Post

“As with traditional media, you must be very targeted in outreach – and social networking sites are no exception.”Amanda Cullari, Media Specialist

“I think the message you send, no matter what social platform you’re using, is key.  Your pitch or request should be personal and not a copy and paste job.  Take the time and effort to send a meaningful message/request and be authentic. With regards to Facebook, I have found success replying to requests. In fact, I was on Good Morning America, twice, as a result of responding to an update by GMA on FB. Businesses and individuals looking to pitch to journalists should consider following and liking them on various social networks so they can reply to requests.” Meaghan Edelstein, ESQ

“I found and pitched an NYT correspondent for one of my clients through Facebook. In the end, she got on the front page of the home and living section. So, I’d say it was incredibly successful especially because the client was a 3 month old start-up brand.”Kristina Libby, social media strategist

“Our company has hired, been hired, pitched, been pitched and (literally) recruited employees via social media. It’s not black or white. There are terribly offensive “traditional” pitches and incredibly sensitive ones that succeed. The same holds true for social media pitches. The rubber meets the road in how the pitcher handles him/herself. That’s much more important than whether it’s a fax, email, or Twitter DM.” –Marty Weintraub, aimClear

Social media is about listening to a conversation, and either joining it, or taking that information away to better yourself or your product. If you use it to spam deals or information regarding your product, you will frustrate the people listening to you in return. There is very little loyalty in social media, you either provide them with a service, or you’re gone. A single click of a button.Aidan Bradley, performance improvement consultant

What tips would you provide about pitching through social media? You can weigh in on the comments section below or on the open discussions on Quora and Linkedin. You can also revisit the other 60 or so responses received to the question through those links.