The Internet has changed the way we connect and communicate – not just with one another, but also with the media. Writing a press release and posting it on the wire doesn’t get your media coverage anymore. In fact, according to the 2015 Cision Social Journalism Study only 6% of PR pros still do that.

Journalists are very active in social media and Twitter in particular. Most journalists consider Twitter to be an extension of their own reporting these days and 75% say that they use Twitter to build their own brand. This is a marvelous opportunity to connect with them online and discover what they’re writing about or looking for.

How do Journalists use Twitter?

  • Story creation: Of the journalists interviewed, all agreed that social media is a powerful tool to uncover potential leads. Comparable to press releases and corporate websites, reporters perceive social media to be a useful source of information. These platforms can serve as excellent filters for the mass of information circulating the web and can assist journalists in effectively reaching an audience they wouldn’t have otherwise been able to target.
  • Finding sources: It can be difficult to find the right sources for a particular story, and social media can help circumvent the information overload to connect journalists with new and unique sources.
  • Self-promotion: While businesses have integrated social media into their marketing strategies, reporters also understand the unprecedented influence that social media can have with fostering engagement with their readers and the impact on their own personal brand. Social media provides journalists a way to actively publicize their work that hasn’t previously been seen. Source PR Newswire.

How to Connect with Journalists on Twitter

  1. Use your media wish-list – or if you don’t already have one, create one. Write down all the journalists that cover your topic that you would like to connect with and have them cover your story.
  2. Look up their Twitter handle. You can do a Google search for their name and Twitter. Or use Followerwonk’s bio search feature to find the journalists that cover a certain beat. If you are using MuckRack this would be a breeze.
  3. Put these journalists into a Twitter list (or lists.) If you have several categories and topics you want covered, you’ll need more than one list.

How to Create a Twitter List

Start by clicking on your profile icon and accessing the drop down menu. Go to Lists. On the right hand side of that page. Click on “Create a new list.” Give it a name and a description and label it either private or public. I’d make it private, since you don’t want to make it available to competitors. Then click Save.

Adding People to the List

This part takes a little longer. Go to the Twitter profile of each journalist you want on the list and click the little gear icon on their page. Then click ‘add or remove from lists.’ When the pop-up appears showing all your created lists check the one you want to add this person to. You can check to see if the journalist you wanted to add was successfully included in that list by going to the Lists tab on your profile page. Click the list you added them to and then click Members. The person will appear in the list of members.

Monitoring Media Lists

Use a free tool like Tweetdeck to display your lists so you can monitor the stream of tweets quickly and easily. This way you can see everything they post and get to know what they’re writing about and what they need for upcoming articles. Also follow all the journalists that you’ve put in your lists and initiate contact by favorite-ing tweets, re-tweeting interesting content they’ve written and commenting on a tweet or an article they post. Add a search for #journorequest and @helpareorter as a column in your Tweetdeck, so you see the direct requests for sources and story ideas.

Pitching Via Twitter

Don’t pitch them right away. unless you see a relevant request you can speak to.

Make a connection first. Once you have made a connection via Twitter, nurture and build the relationship. The key to media relations has always been about just that – building relationships with reporters and editors. And always delivering information they can use.

When you have a relevant story angle to pitch 140 characters will probably not do the story justice. This is where your online newsroom comes into play. Create a “news capsule” about the story angle and post it in your newsroom.

Now write a killer pitch in less than 100 characters. Add the link to the newsroom where they can get all the info – including visuals that are ready to use or incorporate into their story – and post it with @ that journalists’ Twitter handle.

@MaryJones Expert Dr. Adam Long. New research on #childhoodcancer. Report, bio & video.

Journalists are under pressure today. They’re expected to deliver text, images and video when they submit a story. If you can become a reliable resource for them and provide them with excellent, credible, newsworthy content that makes their job easier, you will get more media coverage.

Yes, this takes time, effort and resources. It’s more work than we used to do. But there is a reason it’s called Earned Media.