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Using Social Media Channels to Help Journalists Do Their Jobs

NMC Account Executive Kevin Gove

The go-to methods for providing journalists with story ideas or story sources have changed with the times. First, there was the phone. Then, e-mail arrived and made a journalist’s inbox forever cluttered. And now, with the ability of media to Tweet or post a call for ideas or sources that can instantly be seen by thousands of eyeballs, social media channels are becoming effective and helpful avenues for reaching out to help journalists do their jobs.

Using social media to pitch stories isn’t a trend. Pitching is personal, and knowing how a media contact prefers to receive a pitch should be your first objective. But, for those who want to test the story-sharing power of Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn here are some tips for pitching media through social channels.

Pitch to Those Who Want Pitches: It’s best to e-mail or call a media contact to find out if it’s OK to pitch them through social media. Some people say in their Twitter profile or LinkedIn profile that they welcome or don’t welcome pitches. You may be surprised at how many are OK with it. Use Twitter search to find people who are “writing a column,” “writing a story” or “need sources.” And, Like the Facebook pages of local and national TV news stations, newspapers, magazines and news websites to see their “We want to hear your story” posts and other calls for story ideas or sources.

Tell How the Story Will Benefit the Audience: Even with an abbreviated pitch, it’s important to share how the story will touch its audience. If you have an idea that will save people money, improve their health, or bring about world peace, say exactly that and not something like, “Hey, I have an awesome story idea for you.” Use numbers and statistics to get your point across quickly and effectively.

Provide a Link to More (Helpful) Information: It’s important to be detailed in a social pitch, especially if adding a link improves your pitch. If your pitch is about a person, provide a link to a full bio or a video that demonstrates what makes them story-worthy. Giving a link to the homepage of a business website or to a 127-page report someone co-authored isn’t helpful or enticing.

Don’t Forget to Follow Up: If your response to a call for a story idea or a source doesn’t get answered right away, follow up with a direct message, or make a phone call. The worst pitch is the one that ends without any conversation (written or verbal) with the media contact. Most people appreciate some kind of follow-up, and it’s beneficial even if all you find out is that the person is on vacation or just really busy.

A Twitter search for “writing a story” will show you results similar to these.

Take a closer look at your media contacts on social channels to find out you are missing opportunities to share stories and get media coverage for clients.

 
By Kevin Gove, Account Executive

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