How to Engage Reporters on Social: Q&A With Ian Greenleigh

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Journalists are bombarded by pitches every day, making it easy for yours to get lost in the shuffle. So how can you increase the chances of receiving a response?

Ian Greenleigh, author of “The Social Media Side Door,” says it’s all about establishing rapport with journalists first.

At his recent Cision webinar, “Switch Your Pitch: The Keys to Engaging Journalists on Social,” Ian discussed how brands can gain media coverage by building relationships with journalists and media professionals through social engagement.

During the webinar, Ian answered several attendees’ questions, but he wasn’t able to get to all of them. Here, Ian addresses the questions that went unanswered at the webinar:

Interested in learning more about pitching journalists on social? View the on-demand webinar today!

Q: How can I increase the chances that an editor from the Huffington Post will respond to my emails?

A: He or she will be much likelier to consider and respond to your emails if the editor associates the name in the “from” field with positive interactions elsewhere. Is this editor on Twitter and other social platforms, and are you providing value to him or her in the ways we discussed in the webinar? Are you sharing his or her work, commenting on the articles, etc.?

All of this boils down to: Can you find a way to use social media to become indispensable to the people you want to reach?

Q: If you create a Twitter account to use professionally (separate from a casual individual account), should your professional account stay strictly business, or is it more humanizing to mix in some tweets about other interests?


A: The latter! I can’t stress this enough. When people join a conversational, social platform and treat it like something on C-SPAN, they typically fail. To be “three-dimensional,” show different sides of yourself. Look for touchstones that you share with the people you want to reach. Even seemingly trivial touchstones can lead to more substantive conversations.

To borrow an example from the world outside of PR, I have a friend that started a conversation with a Google recruiter about a shared affinity for a variety of tea. That conversation quickly escalated into a job interview!

Don’t be afraid to have a point of view as you use social. I think it makes sense to avoid highly divisive topics like politics, sex and religion (although I sometimes venture into these territories in my own updates), but as humans, we have opinions on much more than that.

Lastly, don’t be afraid to disagree with people you are trying to reach. In many cases, doing so constructively and publicly is the only way you’ll actually get through. Powerful people are surrounded by “yes people” (formerly “yes men”), and they rarely hear dissent.

Many of them take to social to escape the echo chamber, and you can stand out by being the person who disagrees in an interesting, thought-provoking and respectful way.

Q: There isn’t much interaction on many of the blogs I’ve seen. Should I still comment?

A: Excellent! This is a good thing for those wishing to stand out and be heard. Would you rather be one of 100 comments or one of three?

If you don’t see bloggers responding to comments, this does not mean they do not notice them. They do.

It can still be a positive social signal, one that will pay off once you engage with the same blogger on another channel and he or she recognizes your name from that insightful comment you left.

I also know from my own experience that blog comments can lead to deeper conversations through other channels, like email.

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Images: Véronique Debord-LazaroGrant Stantiall (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..

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