I’ll be honest – when I created a Twitter profile three years ago, it took me awhile to warm up to the latest social media platform (I’m very outspoken, so condensing my thoughts into 140 characters was a real struggle). But I slowly learned to love the little blue bird and have found Twitter useful for scoring freebies, getting breaking news and even professional networking (it’s always great to put a name with a Twitter handle at PRSA events).
But the moment I truly fell in love with tweeting was when I realized the power it had on the news cycle and garnering media coverage.
An increasing number of reporters and media outlets have taken to Twitter to promote news stories, seek interview subjects and dig up story leads. Publications such as Bloomberg are encouraging journalists to join the Twitterverse, and media resources such as ProfNet and Help a Reporter Out (HARO) assist reporters by sending tweets to twitter-addict PR professionals like me.
With so much news coming through your Twitter feed, companies and organizations should integrate a Twitter strategy into media relations programs in order to build reporter relationships, make news announcements and find relevant media opportunities.
Still, confused? Let me break this down for you with 140-character tips (go ahead, use your word count feature, I promise these are all tweetable):
- Research Twitter handles for the reporters on your media list and follow them.
- Better yet, create a Twitter list of media that is important to your company.
- Include your Twitter handle in your boilerplate.
- Make news on Twitter. Share your company’s press releases, tease upcoming announcements, promote events, etc.
- When a reporter writes a story about you – promote it on Twitter and thank them using an @reply.
- When at a tradeshow or conference, tweet members of the media in attendance and ask them to visit your booth & meet your thought leaders.
- Let your followers know about the reporters and outlets that cover your industry using #FF.
- Use hashtags and participate in trend discussions. Reporters monitor Twitter for story ideas and sources.
- Pitch stories on Twitter. Call me crazy, but it works! Bloggers especially love to be contacted using tweets and DM’s.
- Ask media outlets and reporters if they’d like to participate in twit chats with your company’s leadership.
- Finally, monitor your feed. Reporters are always seeking story leads and tweeting relevant articles for you to engage.
Because of the powerful media possibilities your Twitter account holds, remember to always tweet with caution. Your tweets are always on-the-record and fair game for a reporter to use in print. And just because you delete a tweet, it doesn’t mean a reporter or competitor hasn’t snagged a screen shot of the post. Make sure your tweets are vetted before being posted, and ensure the employee or PR representative who manages your Twitter feed takes extra precautions to keep you company’s Twitter feed and his/her personal account separate to avoid cross-posting (just ask this Secret Service employee).