PR targeted media relations ads Facebook TwitterThe time-honored media relations method to identify and pitch journalists is getting some competition and moving into social media.

In addition to using a media database to identify journalists and either email or phone calls to contact them, PR pros can now “cold call” journalists through targeted social media advertising. Social media advertising seems to work better in certain situations than the long-established media database / “cold contact” method to get the attention of and reaction from targeted journalists. Building long-term relationships with journalists remains the preferred media relations technique.

Targeted Social Media Advertising

Granular options on Facebook and Twitter permit ads to target individuals by the company they work for and their job title. That produces a small but highly relevant audience. For PR, it’s the reporter or blogger who may cover the company’s industry or product category.

“Using this approach, your CPC [cost-per-click] might be a little higher than you’re used to with other Facebook campaigns, but you will be targeting such a small and valuable audience that your overall costs should remain very low,” states digital marketer Aaron Zakowski on his website. “And the impact can be HUGE.”

PR experts say the strategy offers an affordable way to obtain media coverage for smaller businesses that cannot afford high-priced PR agencies with established media contacts or the price of an annual media database subscription. While highly targeted social advertising has existed for a few years, observers say it’s now becoming more popular.

Main Steps for Targeted Facebook Ads

Zakowski suggests these steps to create a targeted ad on Facebook.

  • Create a superb piece of content to link to, such as article or video about your product.
  • Go to advanced target options in the Ads Manager tab.
  • Use the Workplaces field to name media outlets.
  • Use the Precise Interests field to target journalists.
  • Separating targeted companies in different ads allows you to easily determine which audiences work best in your campaign and adjust your bids.

Media relations pros and others can also use the technique to reach influential bloggers. Collect a list of bloggers who may be interested in your organization or subject area, find their personal Facebook profile pages and unique Facebook IDs with, then submit the IDs to create a custom audience using Facebook’s Power Editor.

A Successful Example

Marty Weintraub at wrote a blog post about General Motors abandoning its large Facebook ad campaigns – a huge mistake, he said. Weintraub won extensive media coverage by running a focused Facebook ad campaign that targeted journalists, reporters, influential ad agencies. The ad campaign cost $18.

“It works. You can get your messages out to incredibly specific people who you know can help you in myriad ways,” Weintraub told The Wall Street Journal.

The Journal didn’t indicate if Weintraub reached the reporter through a Facebook ad.

Ian Greenleigh, author and senior manager of content and social strategy at Bazaarvoice, says “Facebook ads are one interesting tool in the outreach kit, and especially useful when you have a fresh, informed angle on a hot story the media already cares about.”

Politicians Targeting on Twitter

Twitter provides similar tools to target journalists. Twitter may have a much smaller reach than Facebook, but it’s become a favorite of politicians.

The Sen. Rand Paul’s (R-Ky.) 2016 presidential campaign has a particularly sophisticated operation targeting journalists directly on Twitter.

“We have even created lists of journalists in early primary states, working with the communications team,” said Chief Digital Strategist Vincent Harris, The Hill reported. “And it’s a really good cheap, effective, targeted way to get a piece of content out there in front of people that you want to see it — journalists who are going to help with their megaphone push a piece of content out further.”

Bottom Line: Granular advertising options on Facebook and Twitter enable PR to directly target individual journalists to increase media coverage. Although long-term relationships remain paramount, the social media advertising approach can attract the attention of journalists who can’t be reached using more traditional pitching methods – resulting in additional media placements.

This is article was originally published on the CyberAlert blog.