PR + Social Media: Should you contact the media via social media?

Forbes magazine posed this question in a recent article and as a PR and social media agency, we’d like to share our expertise in  hopes of helping to guide you through the ever merging areas of social media and PR. First, just like in the “olden days,” you should contact the media through their contact method of choice. If you’re not sure, find out. If you don’t have a relationship with the media professional or can’t find out their contact method of choice, email is still a good bet.  However, the way we communicate has changed forever. Social media is now an integral part of our public relations programs and should be an integral part of yours as well.  The rule of thumb for contacting the media via social media is this:

Facebook: If you’re not already connected with a media professional on Facebook, don’t “friend” them only to turn around and pitch them.  It’s simply common courtesy.  Additionally, if you are “friends” on Facebook, but you notice they use Facebook primarily for personal use, don’t violate that space. Choose another form of communication.  If a reporter or editor uses Facebook professionally only, or mixes personal and business in that space, and you’re already connected to them, then a pitch is appropriate.

Twitter: Twitter is unique in that a lot of people–including media professionals–are on Twitter, but do not monitor the activity closely.  Therefore, the only time you would want to pitch via Twitter is if the media professional is an avid Twitter user, professionally speaking.  Once again, you need to know the media you’re pitching, know the format in which they prefer to be pitched, and monitor their social media presence to ensure your pitch is aligned with their interests, beats, etc.

LinkedIn: Given that this is a professional social media platform, it’s perfectly appropriate to pitch media professionals in this space. However, just like other social networks, if you’re going to pitch via LinkedIn, you want to be sure that the media professional you’re pitching is an active LinkedIn user.  If they have a profile, but only 25 connections, it’s probably not a format they’d prefer to be pitched through.

Ultimately, although the vehicles in which we pitch the media have changed, the way you approach the media has not.  Know the person, their beat, their interests and their publication, program or blog, and then pitch a great story! If you do that, you’re almost guaranteed success.  Happy pitching!

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