The Social Media Pitch: What Do Journalists Prefer?

In our 2013 Social Journalism Study, we surveyed 3,000 journalists in 11 countries to find out how they view and use social media, and their relationship with public relations.

In the study, 82 percent of journalists said they want to be contacted by PR via email, while 25 percent said social media. In addition, 42 percent of journalists said they use four to five social media types in a typical week.

Now, it’s time to put this insight – and other data from the study – to work. Although there is not one uniform method every journalist prefers, there are best practices which lead to better relationships with journalists and help generate more media coverage.  How should you apply these findings and learn the best way to connect with your contacts?

Follow Contacts on Social Media: While a good subject line or well-crafted tweet is important, the best way to get a journalist to notice you is to become a trusted source. Read, share and comment on articles they write or posts on social media . This gives you the opportunity to build a relationship that doesn’t have anything to do with placing a client in their publication. Aside from that, you may get lucky and catch a post by them asking for sources for a story!

Research their Preferences: We know, it’s tough when you have multiple clients to manage and several topics to cover. But in the sake of quality over quantity – and saving both you and the journalist time – take a few minutes to understand their coverage. In our media database, we not only list contact information but we also interview journalists and write profiles which detail their specific preferences when being pitched, as well as bio information on them. Search for your contact’s name in our PR software and voila! Most of our journalist listings will provide this detailed insight.

Be Reliable: No matter which communication method you use, if you send a request to a journalist and they respond, follow-up ASAP. Whether they have questions, want an interview or more information, they’re typically working on a tight deadline and want to be the first source to cover a story. If you can respond quickly and get them the materials they need,  you will be on your way to becoming a trusted source.

In our Behind the Story series, we talked to journalists about this exact topic. Our panel of journalists discuss pitching preferences below:

  • Good tips. The most important qualifier for contacting a journalist is to make sure your news is truly relevant to his or her audience. I was actually surprised Cision and the other media database providers did not respond to The Haggler's rant in the NY Times about media databases contributing to the annoying volume of spam in his inbox.
    As a former journalsit, turned PR pro I covered this from both sides of the fence:

    • Lisa M Larranaga

      Hi Bev,

      Thank you for sharing your thoughts, and we completely agree that relevancy is the most important qualifier. We discuss this with our clients and the industry at-large through our blog, webinars, off-site panels, and more.

      We fielded inquiries regarding the column from clients and bloggers, and I think this outlines it well:….

      Thank you!

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