Edelman and Cision Form Communications Cloud Partnership Read More

Connect With Journalists on Social Media: Q&A With Ian Greenleigh

The rules for pitching journalists have changed. Gone are the days of the 30-second elevator sales pitch. Today, it’s all about building relationships.

So how can you gain the media coverage your brand needs through a digital encounter?

Social media offers a unique opportunity for your brand to connect with journalists and media contacts in a direct way and familiarize them with your brand. Ian Greenleigh, author of “The Social Media Side Door,” recently answered a few questions on communicating with journalists on social media.

Ian will go into more detail at his upcoming Cision webinar, “Switch Your Pitch: The Keys to Engaging Journalists on Social,” but for now, here’s a few of his insights on the topic:

Q: Besides standing out, what are the other advantages of using social media to reach journalists?

A: Social media helps you become a known quantity. Every positive interaction you have with a journalist contributes to the relationship. And that’s important—if your only interactions with journalists are to pitch them, that’s not a relationship by any stretch.

Sure, if you find an opportunity to help a journalist with whom you’ve never previously communicated, do it. But if he or she looks at your post history and sees you’ve turned your social media presence into a pitch factory, you’ll be ignored.  

Journalists tend to follow one another on social. The network effect kicks in really nicely for this reason.

If you’re chatting with Reporter A on Twitter, for example, there’s a decent chance that her follower Reporter B will see that interaction. If the interaction is a good one, you’ve just earned some additional social proof. Social proof is instrumental as a signal of credibility, authority and press-worthiness.

Get more tips on how to pitch on social media. Register for Ian Greenleigh’s webinar today!

Q: How is reaching journalists via social media different from more traditional pitches?


A: Surveys like this one from ING show that journalists prefer to be contacted via email, and that this is the most common method. But preferred and common are not synonyms for effective.

Think of it this way: if you get 50 email pitches a day, you probably won’t fully consider each one.  If you get 10 instances of social media outreach on that same day, there is less to process. Each instance has a chance to stand out and receive full evaluation.

It’s hard to fit a fully-formed pitch into a tweet or other piece of social content. Good. That’s not what the medium is useful for. It’s not one or the other, either. New media and traditional media are often complementary. For example, start the conversation on social and switch to email for longer-form, formalized communication.

Unless you’re getting emails from journalists all the time, the medium isn’t telling you anything about what they’re reporting on, researching, etc. But many of the journalists who actively use it share this information routinely.

The question is, will you be tuned in when that signal is broadcast? If not, do you have alerts set up? Are you ready to respond quickly? Email is not great for this type of intelligence gathering.

Q: Should social outreach to journalists be limited to organic means, or can ads be effective?

A: Ads can be extremely effective, especially on platforms like LinkedIn and Facebook where privacy and reciprocity are the defaults. For example, ads can be pointed at employees of specific media organizations, and even individuals with journalistic job titles (editor, correspondent, reporter, etc.). And on Twitter, ads can be bought against search terms, hashtags and more—this is perfect for intriguing journalists in the midst of researching these topics.


Images: Eric KilbyDennis Skley (Creative Commons)

Tags : social media

About Maria Materise

Maria Materise is a content marketing specialist for Cision. Formerly a copywriter, she enjoys creating content that excites and inspires audiences. She is an avid reader, movie trivia geek, Harry Potter fanatic and makeup junkie..

Recent Posts

Cision Blogs

  • Communications Best Practices

    Get the latest updates on PR, communications and marketing best practices.

  • Cision Product News

    Keep up with everything Cision. Check here for the most current product news.

  • Executive Insights

    Thought leadership and communications strategy for the C-suite written by the C-suite.

  • Media Blog

    A blog for and about the media featuring trends, tips, tools, media moves and more.