How to Use Social Media for Effective Media Relations

Although the media landscape has changed considerably in recent years, getting media exposure is still incredibly powerful for brands — especially if it’s integrated into an overall marketing strategy.

In the old world of public relations, you hired firms with long standing relationships with trusted reporters.
  But now, people and businesses have the opportunity to build those relationships with reporters directly through social web.

While the principles of good media relations still apply, the tools and methods have changed a bit.

If you’d like to get some more media coverage for your brand, here are a few ideas on how to use social media channels to help you accomplish that:

Research reporters and influencers.

Research has always been a key component to media relations. Before pitching your brand’s story to a reporter, wouldn’t it help to know more about the reporter and what he or she writes about?

Before social media, that mostly meant reading all of their articles.
 But now, social media allows you to go even deeper with your research to develop a better understanding of the reporter, blogger or influencer.

For instance, in addition to reading a reporter’s articles, you can also check out their blog, photos or video streams and content they are sharing on Twitter or Facebook. Heck, you can even get a sense of a reporter’s hobbies and interests, which can also be incredibly useful.

The more you know about a reporter before you pitch a story, the more likely you are to get coverage.

Build relationships.

Social media offers the incredible opportunity to build relationships with reporters, bloggers and influencers. Instead of going to networking events or taking reporters to lunch, you can now get to know these individuals right from your desk.

Why is this important?

Reporters want to deal with people they already know, like and trust.

Don’t believe me? Here’s what a TV reporter friend, Josh DeVine, had to say:

“I’d say it’s a wise idea for PR professionals to use social media not only to pitch stories or angles, but also to join the conversation on stories and build a relationship.
 I think a lot of PR professionals miss an opportunity to become recognized by reporters. I hope it doesn’t sound callous, but the more I know you, the more inclined I am to pay attention to your Tweets, mentions and DMs.”

So, how do you do this? Here are some ideas:

  • Join relevant conversations and respond to things they are talking about
  • Comment on their articles and blog posts
  • Share their content on social networks
  • Be helpful by offering up useful information, sources or news tips — even if it’s not for your brand or client — to demonstrate you’re a valued source
  • Talk to them about your shared hobbies and interests

Monitor and respond to relevant conversations.

One of the most important aspects of media relations in general is monitoring the conversations about your brand, your industry and your competitors.

Social media allows you to do that in real time. This opens up the opportunity to jump into conversations that are relevant to your brand.

Set up Google alerts and Twitter searches to stay on top of what reporters and other influencers are talking about. You can also create lists of reporters you are targeting and following.

In fact, reporters often ask questions or ask for sources online. You want to be ready with they do. That way, when the opportunity is right, you can join the conversation and offer up your brand as a resource.

Promote your content.

Social media does offer the ability to promote your content and get it into the hands of more people. But, there is a reason why this is last point on the list.

Although this can be important and incredibly useful, sharing your content on social channels is the easiest thing to do and what people tend to do first. I would argue that spending time doing the other three things first is far more valuable. That way, when you get to the point of promoting your content, you won’t really need to.

That said, here are some ideas for promoting your content on the social web:

  • Don’t just share press releases — craft blog posts and other content that can be shared on social channels
  • Give journalists what they want — an online newsroom, images, video and other multimedia
  • Encourage your fans / followers to spread the word about your news
  • Make it easy for reporters to find and share your content
  • Send reporters tips — but ONLY if you’ve developed relationships first

What else would you add?

There are plenty of other things we could add to this list. But, I’d love for reporters, bloggers and other PR/marketing pros to weigh in here.

Tomorrow, I’m speaking to a class of college students about how to use social media for media relations and I would love to share some responses “from the field”.

If you need some ideas, here are some questions I’d love for you to answer:

  • PR/marketing folks: Do you have a success story about how you used social media for your media relations efforts?
  • Reporters: How do you want people to engage with you? Do you have a preferred social network?
  • What’s the worst pitch or media relations disaster you’ve seen on the social web?

So, give me your best shot! What would you tell the PR and marketing pros of tomorrow about how to use social media for media relations?

Image credit: NashvilleCorps

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Laura Click

Laura Click is brand strategist, speaker, podcaster and the founder of Blue Kite. Learn more about Laura and her work at Blue Kite.

6 replies on “How to Use Social Media for Effective Media Relations”

Laura, this is an EXCELLENT, EXCELLENT post…thanks for asking and for sharing my thoughts, resource. Wonder if you can pitch this to the PR Breakfast Club — perhaps revise it somewhat so it’s fresh in a month?

So glad you like it, Jayme. As you know, this could be 10 different posts, but hopefully, it’s a good primer and place to start the conversation. Thanks for weighing in on Facebook! Really appreciate it.

What is PR Breakfast Club? I’m not familiar with them. I’ll have to check it out.

I wrote it this morning. I used to always write at night when I had the “day job”, but now I write in the morning when I’m fresher. But, it’s making my posting schedule a little less consistent.

When do YOU sleep?! You publish every day!

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