Traditionally, pitching stories to journalists means picking up the phone or dropping them an email. This is all very well if you happen to be on first name terms with the writer in question. But, what if they’re a new contact and you’ve not spoken to them before?
Fortunately, nowadays we’re spared the daunting task of contacting a journalist blind.
We can now use personal and company blogs, Twitter and especially Linkedin as research tools. Accessing a journalist’s social media outlets means that we can ensure that they’re the right person to speak to and establish their area of interest. At the very minimum their activity will give you a good conversation starter (I saw your article on…/ I see you attended…). Researching their background allows you to show that you know your stuff and tailor your pitch to suit their readers’ needs, making them more likely to accept your article.
Social media can also be used to interact with journalists allowing you to keep abreast of hot topics in an industry and join the debate. If you’re part of relevant discussion, the journalist may even get to know you and see you as an industry insider.
This kind of interaction is not a replacement for genuine face time or a call though. You still need to explain your client and your article to the journalist. However, it is a means of ensuring that you and your article are relevant and up-to-date, saving both the journalist’s time and yours. Social media research serves the purpose of streamlining the time you do spend speaking, making it to the point and productive.
We have found that social media helps us to keep in the loop and monitor industry trends, find who’s talking about topics that matter to us and make new contacts in those areas.