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It’s no secret that public relations are all about relationship building (hey, it’s in the name). Traditionally, relationship building was done through mixers and coffee chats with journalists. I still remember the number of free dinners I was offered in my years as a journalist! Enter social media, and you can now reach a writer sipping his or her coffee on the other side of the world. Yes, there are more opportunities to connect, but the bare basics of building relationships shouldn’t be forgotten.
Here are four social-media platforms I use to build relationships with the media.
There are only two platforms that are still excellent places to connect with traditional media professionals: Twitter and LinkedIn. Despite cold connections and cold pitching becoming a thing of the past, it’s still something done regularly on LinkedIn, and it works! Particularly with LinkedIn Premium, you can really dive into researching who works where and connect with staff writers of different magazines.
I usually choose an upfront approach. I tell them I read their work, show I know their topics and mention the areas my client has expertise in. This is better than direct pitching straight away, as I want them to realize that I have a valuable resource for them. Then, after a connection has been established and they’ve given a green light to pitch, I go back to them when I have a relevant topic.
Keep engaging with the press, even when you don’t have a pitch. This shows that you’re genuine about the relationship.
My relationship with Twitter is nonlinear. I signed up for an account in 2011 and wrote my first tweet, “welcome to my twitter,” before abandoning it entirely. Then in 2017, Twitter came back on my radar when I was researching press strategies for a client. I realized that there were a few specific groups keeping Twitter alive, and journalists were one of those key groups.
Despite there being apps like Snapchat and others with “story features,” Twitter is still the fastest way to get information out to the public. Over the years, this hasn’t changed for reporters and journalists, and there were a number of cases where Twitter users broke the news before any official media did. Twitter is still journalists’ favored platform to connect with sources they might not reach otherwise. In fact, 83% of journalists listed Twitter as the most valuable media platform.
So, how can you use Twitter to build a relationship with the press? Firstly, you can’t just cold pitch, unless you really have a breaking news. In which case, finding the right writer and offering him or her an exclusive is your way to go. Otherwise, it is all about taking the time to build relationships and show you’re not just about self-promotion. Follow journalists and take the time to get to know their interests, who they work for, their niche and their specialties. Retweet their tweets, share their articles, have genuine conversations and share resources with them that genuinely help (even if they’re not anything to do with your business).
Secondly, when you do connect with them, mention a social post of theirs that really stayed with you. This is a great way to show them that you’re paying attention and knowledgeable about who they are in the industry.
Coming up with a unique hashtag for your business is an excellent way of generating positive press around your business!
3. Instagram and Clubhouse, combined
Honestly, on its own, Instagram isn’t the best platform for forming connections with the media. It’s not a platform where you’ll find staff writers and editors, but you can count on finding contributing writers. These folks are usually into building their personal brands, and they get cold pitched to a lot. Because of this, it’s a saturated area, so it’s best to avoid cold pitching on Instagram. However, in combination with Clubhouse, there is a potent recipe for success.
My team has a strategy when it comes to this. First, we research the web and choose who we want to connect with. This could be an influencer, a podcast host or a contributing writer. Then we set “alerts” that notify us when the person is going live on Clubhouse. We listen to what he or she is talking about and use this information to search for something that could make our pitch relevant to him or her. Lastly, we reach out to the person on Instagram: “Hey, I heard you talking on Clubhouse.” This creates a proximity effect, building a relationship where you’re far more likely to receive a response.
Facebook may not be the go-to platform anymore for instant news. However, in 2021, this platform is the best place to find communities and groups for networking. There are endless groups for the press, entrepreneurs, influencer marketing and those working in PR, making it the perfect platform to mingle with the press. Joining these groups is a great way to network, make a name for yourself and get on the press radar.
Relationships can also feel more personal here as you have to request to be in groups or to be “friends” with someone. This means you need to make it obvious the value you offer from the get-go. Make sure your Facebook profile aligns with your business, summarizing what you do and your specialty.
I highly recommend joining groups that connect podcast hosts and podcast guests and creating a schedule to check these groups regularly. Podcasts are an excellent tool for PR, as they are always increasing in popularity and have great reach.