I recently read about an individual who replied to 7 545 emails last year. This calculates to 45 working days spent on answering emails. No wonder media prefer to simply hit delete and move on!
Most journalists use social media to source story ideas. But with so much bad social media pitching going on, you need to get your pitch heard above all the cyber noise. How does a PR practitioner do that? By building a relationship, keeping the conversation going and offering real news and value.Build a relationship first
Journalists are more likely to accept pitches from PR practitioners they know than those they don't. So, if you want to target an editor or reporter you've never engaged with before, do your research. Have a look at their latest stories, blogs and social media profiles, also on Facebook and LinkedIn. Make sure they're the right media to pitch to, and make sure Twitter is their preferred communication channel. Get to know more about media
You can learn more about journalists by looking at their tweets, retweets, favourites and who they engage with. You'll soon understand which stories interest them and be able to join in on their conversations. Develop a relationship by retweeting their tweets, replying to their questions and commenting on their stories or blog posts. Become a valuable and respected source
Instead of tweeting about your daily activities, rather share information or insight on topics media are following. Editors often post requests such as: "We're looking for interesting ideas around X-Y-Z to discuss today." Capitalise on these opportunities for your clients. Be instant and spot-on with your response and this could pave the way for a later twitpitch*. 140 characters
As with salespeople's elevator pitch, the twitpitch gets PR practitioners to condense their message into a neat 140 characters. Journalists love this as it forces PR practitioners to get straight to the point and saves them precious time.When is a good time to twitpitch?
After you've followed your media contacts for a while and hopefully are followed back, start your pitching process by sending a tweet. Say you liked their story and have an idea for a follow-up, or that you have a project you'd like their feedback on; ask if you can send them more details. If you're followed back, you could DM** your pitch. If not, you could reply, but bear in mind that your twitpitch will be out there for all to see.Do's and don'ts of twitpitching
When you twitpitch, keep it focused and don't send more than two tweets relating to a pitch - the whole point of Twitter is not having to read a book! Rather include a link to more information. Personalise your pitches for different media, never pitch off-topic and never ever send random pitches to journalists you don't know. Have your SMR*** and YouTube announcements ready the moment you pitch. Proofread your tweets and don't use net-speak. Although it's social
media, remain professional at all times, otherwise there might just be "lol" where you don't want it to be.
So, is the email pitch really dead? Not entirely, as some journalists don't primarily use Twitter and still respond better to emails. The answer is a well-rounded pitch strategy with different tools and approaches.
The bottom line however remains: news (actual, real news stories), and interesting and relevant story ideas are the ones that will sell and make you a valuable and respected media source. In the end they're the ones that will make your pitch successful, whether it's the nifty new twitpitch or a traditional one.
* A phrase coined by New York social media specialist, Stowe Boyd
** Direct Message
*** Social Media Release