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Tips on social media from a professional in the field

SMTipspicIn our recent annual Vocus State of the Media Report, we found that journalists overwhelmingly preferred to be contacted by email over social media. In that vein, inVocus recently asked PR professionals about their favorite social media platforms for connecting with journalists. Danny Groner, manager for blogger partnerships and outreach at Shutterstock, a stock photography agency, effectively conveys the spirit of what we’ve often found to be true, while also offering insight into how he’s found social media to be the most effective:

dannygroner

Danny Groner

Social media is wonderful to break down barriers and to give people more access. But when it comes to PR and pitching, there’s a certain expectation of professionalism and privacy that isn’t going away any time soon. Reporters don’t want to be bothered on any platform, and social media is not the right place to make a positive impression on them.

Besides, when you’re pitching a big idea, and one you hope for a journalist to jump at the opportunity to cover, you’ll want to flesh out the idea. That doesn’t mean to write long. Rather, it’s about using the space you have to cover the topic and outline why it’s valuable and worthy of consideration. That’s something you can only really achieve in person, on the phone, or in an email. Nobody wants to read a long pitch in a Facebook message. And, frankly, if you can squeeze a pitch into a tweet, you’re doing it wrong.

Social media is a great place to identify, locate, and establish contact with a reporter. By all means, though, move the conversation elsewhere where you can both have space to explore the possibility of working together.

I always prefer to establish contact over email ahead of a social network. I will use LinkedIn to see if an email address is listed there. That’s the best value of LinkedIn as a social network — it is a database more than a platform in its own right.

If an email address is not readily available, I will resort to using social media to establish contact with someone I’m trying to reach. I’d warn against using Facebook for these purposes. The few times I’ve had only a Facebook account to go on, I haven’t heard back from the sources. The messages are either defaulted to a folder people don’t check or considered spammy. In other countries like Brazil, Facebook is more of a professional tool. In the U.S., though, that isn’t the standard practice.

If someone has a Twitter feed, you can reach out to them by starting your tweet with @theirusername, which will be seen by a limited number of people. The goal there is to say “How can I reach you via email?” to make it clear you have a business proposal for them. I’ve had some success with this approach and tactic.

At the end of the day, your voice, message, and style will determine most whether or not this turns into a lead for you. The platform is not the message. But what platform you use can send a message of its own. So tread carefully with how you reach out to someone, and how often you do. Everyone is busy.

Check back on Friday to read what PR pros have to say about the platforms they find most effective for social media outreach.

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