Posted on January 30, 2012 by mary nevaire

Media Relations in a Social Media World

Elyse Hammett and Kimberly Kennedy

In the 1950s, the model of communication between PR representatives and the media could be drawn in a simple black and white chart. Then, charts became PowerPoint presentations, letters became emails, and phones now talk to you. The digital age consists of blogs, email, Facebook, Google Chat and Google +, RSS feeds, texts, Twitter, and YouTube. All the avenues might make you miss the easy days of Andy of Mayberry, but don’t worry. To prepare for a Public Relations Society of America meeting in January 2012, Elyse Hammett, APR – Executive VP of PR, and Kimberly Kennedy, media and communications coach, both of EOS Marketing and Public Relations, did a qualitative study of journalists throughout Atlanta. Here are some guidelines for our current Law & Order world based on their survey results.

Know where reporters are going for stories. 62% of reporters use Facebook, 44% use Twitter, and 25% turn to blogs to find new material. To get the word out about your product or company, start with these tools.



Know when to pitch to reporters. 38% say it’s best to pitch a few months out, and 38% say several days out. Only 6% want a pitch the night before. And what about calls, texts, or emails after hours or on the weekend? If you’re reaching out to reporters when they’re off the clock, it should be for a great story. 31% of reporters don’t want to be bothered, while 62% say it depends on the strength and time constraints of a story.

Okay. We’ve got when and where, now what about how? 94% of reporters want to be contacted in an email and 64% want to be contacted directly. When you’re writing an email, don’t get clever; get to the point. Let the reporter know why it’s a good fit for them, the station, or the paper, and how it will benefit their readers.
Be sure to avoid a reporter’s “pet peeves”. These were given as the most annoying PR pitfalls. Be upfront about the money trail. Say whom you work for in the first line of your email. Take “no” for an answer. Be positive! The next pitch might be a perfect fit. But don’t pester them, or your emails could end up with “miracle” diet pill offers in the Spam folder. Be discerning. Ms. Manners may love reading about trends in the housing market, but she won’t be writing about them in her column.

Building Relationships The Andy Griffith world is gone, but “Nothing replaces old-fashioned connections based on relationships and years of performance,” says Ms. Hammett. We just use 21st century tools to sustain them. Facebook has 800 million users, and your go-to journalist is on it. 85% of business-to-business journalists comb Facebook for stories, and 35% use Facebook for story angles. “Friend” them and follow them on Twitter (84% of journalists are on Twitter and 27% use it more than anything else) to scope for stories they’re interested in. Remove their name from mass email lists and instead send them custom designs. When you pitch, have real people ready to interview.

– Mary Nevaire Marsh

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