Steve Reubel recently pondered whether Twitter may one day replace public relations professionals’ traditional method of pitching press via email. It reminded us to earlier this year when we asked professionals in public relations to self-police how they interact with press and bloggers via Twitter. We had our suspicions on whether press and bloggers might be receptive to this approach, so we decided to ask a handful and get their two cents on the matter. What follows is an aggregation of their perspective, as well as that of ours here at Ignite PR.
Twitter’s greatest value is that it is a place for conversations. Where brevity rules, a pitch in 140 characters is just too limiting and cannot typically provide enough context. Clearly, there might be an exception here - perhaps with a breaking news announcement and the public relations rep reaching out to targeted press and bloggers that are visibly available on Twitter. The norm, however, is more likely to be a simple tweet to a journalist that could potentially spur interest, but for the idea to become anything bigger, then the conversation would eventually have to transition over to email or phone. Additionally, most workflow productivity occurs around email, and Twitter is nowhere near supplanting email as the preferred communication tool to drive business. Lastly, while conversations on Twitter can suggest sentiment around a topic, the signal to noise ratio on Twitter is so high it is difficult to sift through. The odds are just much greater for a pitch to get lost in the heavy volume of tweet streams than via email.
There are, however, appropriate ways public relations people can use Twitter to interact with press and bloggers. Here a few examples. Follow key influencers who cover your clients’ industries (i.e.: mobile, cloud computing, online search, etc.). Monitor their tweets and read the articles they link to. Share links or participate in discussions they’re tweeting about from a market-centric standpoint and not a vendor-centric one. If a bi-directional relationship is established, send the reporter that specifically covers your client’s space a heads up on a pending news announcement. Show reciprocity and retweet (RT) a journalist's article or blogger’s post that you found insightful or provocative.
However, using Twitter to blindly spam journalists with off-target tweet pitches will kill PR people’s opportunity to engage with media and bloggers in a meaningful way. Twitter’s novelty has opened up new opportunities for key influencers and public relations folks to connect. If poor pitching practices carry over to Twitter, media will quickly find a way to disconnect PR from this channel. We remain hopeful that Twitter doesn’t become a hotspot for unsolicited, endless public relations pitches polluting the micro-blogging channel. Leave that dirty work to the spammers who push seedy content and get-rich overnight schemes.
A special shout-out and thank you to Kristen Nicole (@KristenNicole2), Nick Hoover (@iweeknick) and Anthony Ha (@anthonyha) for sharing their thoughts with us on this topic. If you’re not following these bloggers and reporters on Twitter, we highly recommend that you do.