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PR pros and the evolution of the social media pitch, continued…

SMPitchingcontinuedpicOn Wednesday inVocus shared how PR professionals are pitching journalists in an age where social media use is ever-expanding. In our upcoming annual Vocus State of the Media Report, we’ll show how journalists responded in a survey to questions on their pitching preferences, and whether social media works for them. Until then, here are more tips and insights from PR practitioners in the field:

Kimberly Eberl, principal of Motion PR

I favor a traditional approach to getting my story ideas in front of media; however, that doesn’t mean Tweeting at a reporter can’t sometimes be the best way to capture his/her attention. Determining the right course of action is highly dependent on a few factors: the outlet, the contact and the subject of the pitch.

With technology-focused outlets or ones that trend towards younger generations, I find a significant amount of reporters and editors are highly active on Twitter. For those media, a 140-character pitch can sometimes be the way to go. In the past, media I initially pitched through social media eventually transferred the conversation over to email, but a Tweet is a great way to break through the clutter and capture their attention.

On the other side, if the content I’m pitching is highly involved and a short pitch won’t do it justice, I opt for the traditional email. It’s a rarity to be able to whittle down even what’s considered an “elevator” pitch to 140 characters. Overall, in more than 15 years in PR, I’ve found that the media prefer to receive an email. While reporters might be active on social media, it’s not typically a space they prefer as a means for publicists to reach them … Call me old-fashioned, but I prefer email simply because it’s easier to track. I can easily look in my outbox to see when I emailed someone, and I can track our conversation. I feel social media is constantly moving, and journalists don’t pay attention to direct pitches.

Kristina Markos, account supervisor of the Ebben Zall Group

I studied print journalism in college and graduated in 2006—just at the beginning of the Internet boom. I was told to call journalists with a pitch, follow up with an email, and snail mail client materials over once the journalist showed interest.

As time went on, the calls slowed, the emails ramped up and social media connections took center stage. Around 2008, I started using LinkedIn as a resource to contact producers, publishers and journalists. When they had an opportunity to see my face, read about my experience and check out my interests, credibility was built. Journalists want to trust a human being—not an email address. So when sending over story ideas, my methodology goes as follows:

1. Connect with the journalist on social media
2. Make a direct connection via email thanking them for the connection/friend/follow
3. Establish a relationship to send over client pitch materials

The art of public relations is very social and based on relationships. Today’s landscape allows for more tools to be utilized to create those relationships for PR professionals.

Lyuba Ellingson, managing director and co-founder of RED ELIXIR Business Solutions LLC

In our case, both e-mail and social media interactions with journalists have proved to be fruitful. We find that the journalists actually welcome the interactions as long as we are offering them something extremely valuable that makes their jobs easier. By far, the best approach to take is to develop relationships with journalists covering relevant topics in publications you want to be featured in ahead of time. This way, you will be viewed as a valuable resource and your content/ideas will always be welcome. One of the tactics we use and teach our clients is to make a Twitter list filled with journalists who write on your topic of interest and interact with them on a daily basis. Offer yourself as a resource when appropriate. This is a proactive approach to setting yourself up for quality publicity. In fact, it’s easier and quicker to go this route (whether you are using Twitter or another social network) than bothering with e-mail. Just like everyone else, journalists are bombarded with a ton of e-mail which can frequently be perceived as a nuisance. Sending an e-mail works well when you already established a relationship and have content of great quality to offer.

Parisnicole Payton, The PNP Agency

I pitch via email. In most cases, I have direct relationships with the journalists. I will seek to reach out via telephone to give an introduction of an email pitch on my client. I have never tried to pitch a journalist via social media. I believe that tactic would fall through the cracks, as they have massive pitch queries come to them via social media. As a public relations professional, it is important to understand and get to know the journalist’s style of preferred pitching. Many journalists prefer to have pitches sent via email. If they are interested, they will reach out directly. I work with various journalists. At the end of the day, it is about relationship, but more importantly: it is about pitching a great story.

Victoria Kent PR manager at Rockit Ranch Productions

I find that I use social media more for getting leads and follow-up than actual pitching. I’ll see that a reporter will post a question or something they are working on via Facebook or Twitter, and I’ll reach out with an email. I use Facebook a lot for follow-up if I haven’t heard back via email. Sending a quick Facebook chat asking if they’re interested in the pitch helps move things along sometimes. I try to keep this informal outreach to close media friends and wouldn’t use it for media that I didn’t know well.

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