5 Things to Know about Pitching Journalists on Twitter

5 Things to Know about Pitching Journalists on Twitter

by Cortney Cleveland

Twitter can be an effective tool for both journalists and PR professionals. Most journalists use the social network to promote their work and look for new story ideas, creating a huge opportunity for savvy publicists to get out of the great email inbox abyss and onto their radar.

And with the fast-paced changes that come with each new technology invention, PR professionals have become masters of making their pitches short and sweet. Whether it’s editing it down to fit onto a mobile device screen without needing to scroll for more information, or fast enough to fit into that short window before a reporter hangs up the phone, brevity is our best friend.

But, how in the world do you a fit a pitch into 140 characters?

Twitter Pitch
Credit: Liz Von Hoene

1. Look in the Mirror First

Before you reach out to a media contact make sure your online presence is together. Don’t pitch from a personal account filled with unprofessional tweets. You want to present yourself as a credible source. Have a complete Twitter profile that outlines who you are and who you work for. Also, include a link to validate your bio – perhaps to your personal website or LinkedIn profile.  Never use Twitter just for pitching. It’s a waste of a valuable tool and it makes you look like a spammer.

2. Standard PR Rules Apply

PR best practices don’t go out the window just because you’re on social media. Approach media contacts on Twitter with the same professionalism you would have using any other channel.

  • Research your contacts before you send them information. Make sure the reporter covers a topic relevant to your client. Always pitch to specific journalist and not a publication’s general account. You’re much more likely to get a response.
  • Personalize your pitch to who you’re talking to, and don’t spam. That’s an easy way to get yourself blocked.
  • Proofread and write in proper English. A 140-character limit is no excuse to write like you’re sending a text message. Keep it professional.

3. Build a Relationship

Pitching is always more effective if you have a relationship with the journalist beforehand. Before you have a story to pitch take the time to follow journalists. Retweet their articles, reply to questions they pose to their followers, and include them on your #FF posts. Try anything you can get to get them to follow you back (outside of repeatedly asking them to follow you back, don’t be that person). Once you’re following each other, you have a vital media contact a direct message away.

4. Craft a Good Hook 

It is nearly impossible to fit an entire story into one tweet. Luckily, you don’t have to do that. When pitching on Twitter, your goal is to hook the reporter’s interest, not tell them the whole story. If you’ve never reached out to the reporter before, introducing yourself can be a great hook. Let them know if you have a story related to their subject area that you think would interest them, and ask for them to follow you so you can direct message them more information. Remember, any information tweeted outside of a direct message can be viewed by the public and other journalists. So, if you’re dealing with an exclusive or a topic you want to pitch to other writers, choose your words carefully at this stage.

Include a URL in your tweet that will give the reporter more information on your potential story. This allows your web content to sell them on the story rather than a few words on Twitter. Remember to keep it short. Tweet lengtheners like TwitLonger are a big no-no, and definitely don’t send back-to-back tweets to get your point across. No one wants to read a paragraph on Twitter. Lastly, don’t just send a link without any description, that’s a quick way to be written off as spam and ignored.

5. Follow Up

Don’t be one of those people who pitches and then disappears. If you have other means of contacting the journalist follow up with them. Not everyone checks their direct messages religiously. Making the extra effort to give them a call is a good way to make sure your tweet has been seen. A journalist passing on your story is not a reason to hit the unfollow button. Use Twitter to build a relationship. This way the next time you have a story it will be even easier to catch their attention.

Have you had success pitching on Twitter? Share your success stories and strategies in the comment section. 

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C. Cleveland is a freelance writer and content strategist in New York City, perfecting living the fierce life at The Red Read. She is at your service on twitter @CleveInTheCity.