How to Win Friends and Influence Journalists—With Social Media
Our world has changed. Social media has rocked PR to its foundations; changing the way we communicate with journalists and the media outlets they work for.
Social media makes it easy to connect with almost anyone and possible to build relationships with members of the media across all boundaries.
Connecting is easy. Building relationships? That takes work.
Taking the time to build and maintain professional relationships with members of the media can yield powerful results for you and the stories you hope to place.
However, like most things in life, there are right ways and wrong ways to go about the business of relationship building online. Done right, you can make valuable connections and be seen as a resource. Done wrong, you can damage your reputation and find doors slamming shut.
Understanding how to use social media is essential.
But it isn’t enough to know the difference between a tweet and an update and how to build a G+ circle or optimize blog content.
Connecting with someone online and turning that connection into a professional friendship takes time, patience and adherence to many of the rules outlined by Dale Carnegie in his book, How to Win Friends and Influence People. The book was published first in 1936 and its lessons hold true today.
So where do you start?
1. Develop a list of members of the media you hope to communicate with. Find them online. Use the Journalist Database from Vocus, or HARO (Help a Reporter Out), or search the wiki, Media People Using Twitter.
2. Follow them and read, watch or listen to their social media updates.
3. Pay attention to the articles or posts they write and share them with your social networks.
4. Post comments when you have something of value to add to the conversation.
5. Respond quickly and helpfully if they reach out to you. Then, use these rules from How to Win Friends and Influence People to turn your connections into professional relationships:
7. “Become genuinely interested in other people.” Journalists and bloggers are inundated with news releases and pitches. Many of them are pitched by PR’s who haven’t read their work or taken the time to understand what they write about. Don’t be that guy.
Become genuinely interested in the work of the journalists and bloggers you pitch or hope to become friendly with.
8. “Be a good listener. Encourage others to talk about themselves.” Ask questions and actively listen to the answers. Our world is filled with people talking and someone who listens is a rare and valuable commodity. Be that person and stand out because you are listening and paying attention.
9. “Make the other person feel important – and do it sincerely.” You can make someone feel important by treating them with respect and by making it clear you understand and value what they find important. Doing this sincerely lays a foundation of trust that can last a lifetime.
10. “If you’re wrong, admit it quickly and emphatically.” We all make mistakes. When we make them in social media they can be magnified and shared quickly. Admit it when you’ve made a mistake and do so quickly.
11. Be helpful. Find out what the other person needs to be successful. Provide what you can and do it quickly. This may include story ideas, background information or access to an interview with someone in your organization. Become a “Youtility” as Jay Baer describes it.
12. Be patient. This takes time. Think about how you feel when someone moves into your sphere of influence and tries to be too friendly too quickly.
13. Finally, build out your online presence. Make sure you are easily found online and that your social network profiles represent you accurately. Journalists use social media to find story ideas, verify information and learn more about the people they connect with. They will look for you.
Combining a solid understanding of how to use social media with old school practical relationship building rules will yield, over time, strong professional relationships with journalists and bloggers who may help you as you build a successful PR career.
Image: Lynn Cazaly, Sara (Creative Commons)
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