Can You Pitch to Reporters on Social Media?

Small business owners are often urged to network online, using sites like Twitter and LinkedIn to forge professional connections that help them as they build their businesses. As professionals strive to gain as much exposure as possible both online and through media outlets, many wonder if social media could be a great way to connect with reporters.

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Can You Pitch to Reporters on Social Media?

In an age when the majority of our communication happens online, and social media has given us access to, and opened doors to, many more people than we could ever imagine, it would make sense to use the technology in business to build relationships. But is that the case for connecting with journalists and reports? In actuality, social media is a great place for professionals to connect with journalists. There is a right way and wrong way to do this, however, so it’s important for small businesses to know the difference. By seeing social media from a reporter’s perspective, professionals can learn the best way to approach making these connections.

How Journalists Use Social Media

Vocus recently conducted a survey of journalists across different types of media. The goal of the survey was to determine how reporters use social media. The survey, which received responses from more than 250 media professionals working in print, TV, radio and online journalism, found that reporters use social media for a variety of tasks.

Perhaps most encouraging to businesses interested in pitching ideas through social networking is that 50 percent of respondents admitted to using social media very frequently for reporting, and another 26.7 percent say they frequently use it. For the most part, reporters use social media for promoting their own articles, with more than 45 percent of respondents saying they prefer not to be pitched through social media. Those who found social media pitches acceptable listed Facebook as a preference, with Twitter coming in second.

Pitching Journalists

Does this mean professionals should stay away from journalists on social media? Not necessarily. Technology journalists and local TV reporters are especially open to social media, since it provides a forum for it to connect with others in the community. Email is still preferred as a pitch medium by many reporters, though, so it may be a safer choice for the vast majority of pitches.

Social media offers an opportunity for professionals to network with journalists, gaining insight into the types of stories they’re seeking. When a reporter posts a link to their latest story, a professional could retweet it or share it to show support. Occasionally reply to that same reporter’s post to put your name and image in front of him. Over time, the reporter may become familiar with the business owner and even feel a rapport. When the professional later sends a pitch, whether through email or social media, a brief mention of the social media following could give that professional an edge.

Most importantly, be polite and professional at all times. If a small business owner is too zealous, it could easily backfire. The best course of action is to post interesting content that has a chance of catching the reporter’s attention. If your social media posts are solely marketing messages, you’re likely eliminating the chances that anyone will ever be interested in following you. Give tips that can help your customers, and you may attract the journalist’s attention merely through your own popularity.

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