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How to Contact Journalists On Twitter

Journalists on TwitterJournalists have had to succumb to the popularity of social networks. In fact, many journalists use social networks to get connected with experts in a particular field when they are on a deadline. A lot of journalists also use social media to listen and see what is trending. But just like anything you do on social networks, building the relationship is key.

Twitter can be a tough nut to crack because you only have 140 characters to get their attention.

12 Tips to Interact with Journalists on Twitter

  1. State your location so journalists know where you are and when to contact you.
  2. List your website in your profile. Journalists need to verify that you are a real person and sometimes the bio isn’t enough.
  3. Only respond to a journalist’s source request tweet if you really fit the criteria of what they are looking for, otherwise you risk them unfollowing you or blocking you.
  4. Do not DM journalists with a “pitch”, unless you already have a relationship with them. (They get plenty).
  5. Keep your tweets about your expertise and avoid tweeting fluff. Journalists look at past tweets.
  6. Don’t tweet a ton of tweets in a row. It’s a turn off for most, including journalists.
  7. Do DM journalists who are following you back to introduce yourself – develop the relationship, they like to be courted too.
  8. Even better, have someone the journalist follows introduce you to the specific journalist. Referrals go a long way.
  9. Send an @ message alerting them that your email is coming or asking if they would be interested in the press release or story. This is a good way to build rapport and relationships. Keep in mind that contacting more than one journalist through @ messages, they all will see that you contacted multiple journalists. So you need to decide if you want to be desperate or focused.
  10. Do not contact a journalist multiple times on Twitter. If you haven’t heard anything in a few days, then follow up with email or a phone call and mention that you first tried on Twitter.
  11. Try giving them some information on a topic when they put out a source search tweet.
  12. Try looking up the hashtag #journorequest or participating in #journchat tweetchat to make friends with journalists.

There’s a website I’m fond of called Help a Reporter Out (HARO) and it is also used by journalists who are on deadline to find experts.

Also, don’t forget to say thank you when they do write about the idea you pitched. There are some other things you can do to help build that relationship like:

  • Look out for story ideas for them, especially if they are good follow-up stories for ones they’ve already written.
  • Thank them for covering an event you attended, especially if you were able to chat with the reporter.
  • It will hopefully remind them of you and solidify the relationship. Definitely retweet their tweets, it tells them that you read what they write and that you will help promote your story should they write about it.
  • Monitor and post your tweets with hashtags on your town and topic. Reporters use Twitter for monitoring too.
  • Keep in mind that a lot of tweets and DMs will look like spam.
  • Try using the journalist’s name in your @message or DM and ask if you can send them more information.
  • Be sure to identify their beat (i.e. what topic they write about like food, health, environment, etc.) and read their last two articles to get your foot in the door.

Like any relationship, it takes time. You can’t expect to court a journalist the same week you have a press release going out. That doesn’t work. You need to start ahead of time, build a rapport and then spring your pitch on them.

Do you have any other ideas you’d like to add to the list? List them in the comments below.

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About Tracy Sestili

Tracy Sestili is CEO and Chief blogger at Social Strand Media. She is also the author of Taking Your Brand from the Bench to the Playing Field -- Social Media Fundamentals for Business.