‘A picture is worth a thousand words’: PR pros connect with journalists on Instagram

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Since it’s advent in late 2010, Instagram has been steadily growing, boasting 100 million active users as of February. Its growth has not gone unmarked and was purchased by Facebook last year. Unlike Twitter, Instagram is very visual in nature and has carved out a niche for itself by allowing users to post fun pictures in a filmy, Polaroid style to other social networks, while employing the same hashtag search technique that the tweeting masses use. Serving as a great tool for journalists to connect with readers, inVocus asked PR professionals to talk about how they’re using the service to connect with media professionals:

Ann Magnin, founder, Ann Magnin Inc.

“Instagram works both ways. Not only is it a productive way for us to share with journalists, but it also provides a window into what they are doing/saying/seeing. There are other ways to communicate via social media, but Instagram cuts to the chase because it’s so quick and so visual. As an agency that represents fashion clients, it’s a perfect medium. Instagram is an important two-way street.”

Erica Equi, director of social media and PR, True North Brand Group

“We have used Instagram on several occasions to connect with journalist, which has resulted in both local and national print and online features. Making those connections with contacts on Instagram helps us build relationships with our contacts. For example, we noticed a contact that works primarily in the beauty industry training for a marathon through her pictures on Instagram. We reached out and asked for her feedback on a pair of recovery shoes that we felt would aid her in her training. Due to her personal connection with the brand, we were able to gain national exposure and have developed a friendly working relationship.”

Logan Beam, director of marketing and communications, All American Clothing Co.

“I recently used Instagram to share a sneak peak of the opening of our new showroom at our headquarters in Arcanum, Ohio. I was lucky enough to land it in the hands of the largest news station in the Dayton/Cincinnati area, WHIO-TV.”

Lynn Maleh, PR and social media strategist, Coalition Technologies

“Instagram, like all other social media, can be a powerful networking tool. Photos are remarkably more poignant than words and rarely come for free on the Web. A smart way to draw attention from journalists is to link up your Instagram account to your Twitter. Once you have a photo you deem newsworthy, tweet the photo and hashtag relevant topics and journalists. Not only are you likely to win retweets, but these journalists may call back on you for future photographic support.”

Serene Buckley, director of content strategy, Fineman PR

“Instagram is an interesting beast – unlike Twitter or Facebook, the platform doesn’t allow for traditional sharing or indexing of other’s content in a utilitarian way. So far, the uses with journalists are somewhat limited but not impossible – it’s a wonderful tool for cultivating relationships through visual storytelling.

As a rule of thumb, commenting on posts always helps versus just liking something – especially if someone has thousands of followers, they are more apt to read comments vs. scrolling through likes. Instagram is all about discovery; if you stumble upon something and you think a specific journalist or publication would be interested, tagging them in the comment with the reason why is a great way to get them to pay attention. They’ll thank you for the tip, and potentially follow you/your brand.”

Stacey Champion, communications director, Strategies 360

“I’m a big fan of Instagram and have been using it both personally and professionally since it came out. I’ll share Instagram pics on Twitter and tag journalists for breaking news stories or press conferences, or use it to bring attention to very visual events.”

Tiffany Irene, content creator and senior publicist, iSpeakPR and Events

“Being a public relations professional for the past six years, I can honestly say that once Instagram hit the market it made making connections a breeze. Through Instagram we are able to track down media outlets, build connections and get results instantly. Why? Because everyone is on their phone. That’s the advantage of Instagram, it’s all on your cellphone, literally, and no one goes anywhere without their cellphone. Yes Facebook and Twitter have apps but they also have full Web pages with advertising and various platforms. Instagram is strictly on your phone and the online version is just to view pictures, nothing more, nothing less. This is how iSpeak utilizes our resources: Once we begin to ‘follow’ the source of interest, it makes it that much easier to track down someone (editor, freelancer, etc.) on a personal level. When we are interested in getting a client featured in a particular media outlet we would first follow that source. Next, we begin to like certain photographs on their page. From there, we would post a picture of our client on our page and then tag the media source in the post. Once that happens, we usually generate a connection with the magazine and from there we move off Instagram and email them directly using Instagram as a reference.  I believe Instagram creates a certain sense of trust, if a company is legit you can scroll through their pictures for the most part and obtain a feel of who they are and whether a connection can be built from there.”

–Katrina M. Mendolera

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