No matter how perfect it is, a public relations pitch will not be effective if it is never seen by the journalist to whom it is sent. And getting your pitch seen is not as easy as it might seem. Journalists get a lot of email messages. It is not unusual for them to receive hundreds of messages every day, many of which will never be read.
So why not try a different route for getting your pitch in front of the right journalist? I recommend a direct message sent to his or her Twitter account.
Using social media to connect with journalists is an excellent way to make a connection and share your pitch. One thing I learned on Capitol Hill was that a lot of reporters will respond more quickly via social media than they will via email. Pitching via Twitter takes a little work, but it is an excellent way to stand out.
Find the right journalist
The first step in this process is doing some research. Once you have identified the topic for your pitch, you can use Twitter’s search capability to find tweets on the topic. The beautiful thing about Twitter is that it will rank the search results by putting those from reputable sources or verified accounts at the top. In a matter of minutes you can identify the top news sources and reporters who are covering the topic that you are pitching.
Reach out via direct message
Ideally, the top search results will reveal a journalist’s Twitter account that accepts direct messages. If that is the case, you have a way to get a pitch to that person that avoids his or her email. (More in a minute on what a pitch sent via DM should look like.)
However, it is possible that the account is not receiving DMs, especially if the reporter has a high profile, or that you find a Twitter account for a news outlet rather than a journalist.
I was recently pitching for a client in the artificial intelligence arena, so I searched for artificial intelligence on Twitter and found a CBS Sunday Morning story with an AI angle. The Twitter account featuring the article was linked to the CBS website, where I was able to find the name of the reporter who covered the story. When I found her Twitter account, I discovered that I could not DM her, but her bio included her email address.
After following the reporter on Twitter, I sent her a message via email. I mentioned that I enjoyed her story and that I have a client who deals with artificial intelligence. I briefly explained what the client does and let her know that I could connect her if she ever wanted to dive deeper into the topic. She responded to me right away, which I think is impressive considering she is a national reporter.
Send a DM-sized pitch
A final note on using social media for pitching: you must keep it brief. When pitching over Twitter, I like to keep it very, very short; much shorter than I would for a pitch that I am sending via email. I would immediately introduce myself and let the reporter know why I am reaching out.
Returning to the example of my artificial intelligence client, I would say, “I saw your story yesterday on artificial intelligence. I have a client who is really bringing AI technology to the real estate market.” From that point, I would wait for a response and hopefully be able to continue the conversation through the direct messaging thread.
Hopefully this illustrates how Twitter can be a great tool for publicists. It can be used to identify journalists who may have an interest in your clients, to connect with journalists or news outlets, and to get pitches in front of them. It can also allow for conversations with journalists to proceed at a much faster pace than they typically would happen via email.– Josh Wilson is a publicist with Otter PR, one of the top PR firms in the US. Josh has more than a decade of public relations experience working with elected officials, small business owners, and nonprofits. Josh worked as a communications director in the US House of Representatives where he built great working relationships with the national press corps.