Social media is an important tool for business communications. But, should you use it to pitch the media?
Social media is an essential tool for business – and personal – communication. We all use social platforms to communicate and engage with our respective audiences, sharing information about our business initiatives, updates, successes, and more.
But, despite social media’s definite role in business comms, some questions remain about how to use social platforms effectively and properly.
For example, is social media is an appropriate medium for pitching a reporter on your business or initiative?
Yes – and no.
Using Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or any other platform as a means of pitching a media contact can be a muddy space. Unlike with email – an expected tool for pitching – there isn’t a general consensus about the appropriateness (or lack thereof) of pitching via social.
So, before firing off a quick Tweet pitch to your top media target, follow the steps below to determine whether or not you should use social media for your outreach.
First, follow the media contacts you’d like to approach.
The first step in pitching – or not pitching, as the case may be – media through social media is actually to follow your target contacts.
Twitter is probably the most commonly used social media platform for media pitching, but follow your target(s) on whichever platforms you use most often.
Next, review their social media postings.
What are your targets posting about most often? Do they share their recent work? Post calls for experts to interview? Or, is their content more personal in nature?
Understanding whether your targets use social media for work or personal – or both – is a good initial step in figuring out whether they’re receptive to pitches through social.
Reviewing a reporter’s social media streams can also give you additional insights into their interests and coverage focuses that may be useful to you when you do pitch them.
Engage with their postings – if and when it feels natural.
If a reporter you’re targeting posts something you like – a recent article they wrote, a funny Tweet, etc. – don’t be afraid to engage with them around the post.
Genuine engagement can serve as an initial introduction to a target, before you pitch them on your own story idea.
Determine whether or not a contact is open to outreach through social media.
Oftentimes, a reporter’s social media profile will indicate whether or not they’re open to being pitched through the platform. Look closely at your targets’ profiles to make sure you don’t pitch someone who specifically says they do not want to receive social media pitches.
If a contact’s profile is quiet on the matter of pitching, make the best assessment you can. If, for example, their postings are focused solely on their personal life, take it as an indication that they keep work and social media separate. On the other hand, if postings are regularly about work, perhaps social media pitching would be appropriate.
Review your own social media profile.
Before engaging in any active social media pitching, do a quick review of your own profile on the platform you’ll be using.
Is your profile complete? Do you use a professional picture? If you include contact information on your profile, is it accurate and up-to-date?
Note: use your personal profile – as opposed to your company’s one – to pitch media contacts. It’s nice for a reporter to know that they’re communicating with an actual human.
Finally, pitch away!
If you determine that your target contact is open to social media pitching, and your own profile is in good shape, it’s time to craft your message.
Given the nature of social media, keep things short, simple, friendly, and intriguing.
If you don’t receive a response within a few days, try following up once. Follow up with a quick check-in via social media, or with a separate email (if you have an email address to use).