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How to Find and Pitch Media Contacts on Twitter

When you’re on a bootstrap marketing budget, you can never have too many friends in media.  If you don’t have those connections now, there’s still hope.  You just might be able to win a few new media friends with the social media darling, Twitter.  Twitter has been a favorite of the media and public relations professionals since its beginning back in 2006.  The quick, “cut to the chase” 140 micro blogging site is perfect for sending out quick editorial queries, source requests, or soliciting feedback on headlines.  I’ve put together some tips below to help you transform Twitter into the latest weapon in your PR arsenal.

How to Find the Media

One of the easiest ways to find relevant media contacts that cover your beat is to check their current publications.  With the rise of Twitter’s popularity many reporters, journalists, and bloggers are adding their twitter handles to their bylines.  If their twitter contact information isn’t listed, try a search on Twitter itself or one of the many search directories such as Twellow.  Another great resource for finding media on twitter is MediaonTwitter.  The directory is pretty self explanatory and includes a list of over 1,000 contacts from publications such as FOX News, USA Today, Business Week, and many other blogs, radio shows, and regional magazines both in the states and overseas.  With HARO’s Peter Shankman helping promote the list, you know it has to be good. (P.S. Make sure you’re signed up for that too!)

Making Contact

Once you have found contacts handling your beat, jump in there and “follow” them.  It’s also a great opportunity to send a quick tweet to say “Hi” and mention that you” liked their article on __________.”  Nothing overly gushy, but just a quick “Hey, I’m here and sincerely interested in what you have to say…” type of greeting.  If they respond, great!  If not, no big deal.  Either way, this is about building a relationship and not instant gratification.  You have along way to go if you want to “friend” a meaningful media contact.

How to Truly “Follow”

Once you start to gain momentum on Twitter, it can become hard to catch everyone’s tweets in your twitter stream.  This brings me to my love/hate relationship with Twitter.  I love the amazing access to people, information, and culture, but hate the overwhelming nature of it all.  To break it down into smaller portions, I rely heavily on “groups” in Tweetdeck.  This is the best tool I’ve found to ensure that I use my Twitter time productively.  Without these groups, the ADD sets in and I get caught up in all types of random rants, Etsy shopping, and web surfing.  I have a “PR” group that I use to follow all my media contacts.  The result is a perfectly edited tweet stream that allows me to keep up with all my “media friends”.  Check this group regularly and be sure to answer any questions, comment on posts they’ve written, or just mention you had a garden omelet for breakfast too.  Everything helps as you work to build the relationship.

Just remember that friendship should be a two-way street with you listening twice as much as you talk.  In other words, DO NOT spam media contacts repeatedly with self-promoting tweets.  If you do, I guarantee you’ll learn the true meaning of “fail whale” the hard way.

When to Pitch

The best time to pitch is when specifically asked.  For example, when a writer tweets they are looking for sources on “short selling in real estate”, be sure to let her know you’d be glad to answer any questions.  While this is the most obvious time to pitch, it isn’t necessarily the most common situation.  You didn’t think it would be that easy, did you?  More likely, you will be the one initiating the pitch.  If done well, it has a good chance of being well received.  If done poorly, you’ll burn bridges and lose your newfound “friend.”  My best suggestion is to be sincere, concise, and informative.  For example, I sell baby clothes and often design pieces that are inspired by current events.  Recently, I designed some “Little Republican” and “Little Democrat” onesies to celebrate the upcoming election.

In this case, I would send this tweet, “Love ur article “ObamasSenseofStyle”! Election is great 4 biz, our political baby clothes r selling out! Wld love 2 share stats! link.bit.ly”

Please note that the tweet is only 140 characters.  This doesn’t give you much space to sell your story.  The key is to make sure your link seals the deal.  The link that I attach will have all the information regarding the product including a description illustrating the news worthy significance of the product, any celebrity fans or political figure customers, a downloadable 300 dpi picture, interesting customer testimonials, and maybe a counter showing which political party has the highest percent of sales.  Ideally, the goal is to include information that demonstrates the newsworthiness of the product.

Follow-Up for Your “Following”

As with anything in marketing, the follow-up is your key to success.  The same rule applies to your following strategy on Twitter.  If your @ replies go unanswered or if your pitch falls on deaf ears, don’t get discouraged.  Go ahead and send a little reminder if you don’t hear a response back in 24-36 hours.

To continue with my example, I might send the follow-up tweet, “Update! Obama may have style, but McCain has the most sales…Curious if this is an indicator for Election Day??? Is there an upset brewing?”

Regardless of what happens, stay vigilant, courteous, and helpful.  If you can’t help with a story, suggest a contact that might be a great source, re-tweet their posts, and be sure to take your interaction outside of Twitter.  This means commenting on their blogs, reading their books, and adding their blog to your personal blogs “blogroll.”  The more you understand their writing style and interests, the easier it will be for you to craft your pitches.

The Bottom Line

I hope you can see the value in adding Twitter to your PR arsenal.  As always, remember to be respectful of the media and stay on topic, concise, and informative when pitching.  Your good intentions will be rewarded.  Even if you don’t receive press from your intended media contact, you are greatly increasing you odds of being picked up elsewhere.  One of the many lessons I’ve learned in my endless pursuit for publicity is that Google can be your greatest ally.  Google never forgets, and it all but guarantees your publicity efforts won’t be forgotten either.

I’d love to hear your comments below and please be sure to follow me on www.twitter.com/glamajama! Want more DIY PR tips? Sign up here

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When you’re on a bootstrap marketing budget, you can never have too many friends in media.  If you don’t have those connections now, there’s still hope.  You just might be able to win a few new media friends with the social media darling, Twitter.  Twitter has been a favorite of the media and public relations [...]

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Expanding Your Network Through Tweetups

If you are using Twitter, you are “following” a number of Twitter feeds as well as being “followed” by a number. The more you use the service, the more you probably start liking certain feeds and paying closer attention to them. In a sense, you start becoming attached to them. All of this is great, [...]

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Stadium Marketing Idea that You Can Copy

Last night I attended my first baseball game of the season at AT&T Park in San Francisco. It’s tradition in most stadiums around the US to incorporate a little crowd participation on the big screens during a break in the game. Everyone has a little fun watching the KissCam, you know when couples are shown [...]

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Be Clear. Be Brief. But come back…often.

So I’ve spoken briefly about Twitter in the past. I am still observing the form to understand its place in the overall ecosystem of social networking…and I heard recently that Strunk & White just released a 50th Anniversary Edition of the Elements of Style. To me, it was the perfect collision of old and new…and [...]

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How To Always Be On “GARD” For PR Success

If you are on a bootstrap marketing budget and looking for do-it-yourself publicity, you need to be on “GARD” for media opportunities that can catapult your brand to the next level. In this video, I explain the “do it yourself” system that has helped me garner media features from such outlets as USA Today, E! [...]

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No Time For Social Media? Hire a Mom.

The rise of social media is undoubtedly one of the biggest changes to happen to marketing since the birth of the internet.  According to a Universal McCann 2008 study, 272 million people are using social media.  Of those 272 million, 77% are reading blogs and approximately 34% of them are posting opinions about companies and brands on their profiles/blogs.  With those kinds of numbers, chances are they are talking about you, your competitors, and your industry.  Why not join the conversation?

Time constraints.  Steep learning curve.  Lack of “social” skills. These are just a few of the excuses I’ve heard for not implementing a social media strategy.  They are all legitimate and worth consideration.  After all, first impressions count.  I would never suggest jumping into social media when you know you won’t have the time or resources to make the strategy successful.  It will not only fail, but could tarnish your brand as well.  However, as with most things, there is a way to outsource your social media efforts.  With the right partner, this type of relationship can give your brand a presence in social media, help you overcome the learning curve, and even teach you a thing or two about being “social.”  One possible partner for your journey into social media is MomForce.com.

MomForce.com was founded in late 2008 as a partnership between Jessica Smith and Care.com. Jessica saw the partnership as an opportunity to blend her personal brand as Chief Mom Officer for Wishpot.com and popular blog JessicaKnows.com with Care.com’s professional brand of being a leader in the care provider referral industry.  The goal of MomForce is to help entrepreneurs and companies enter social media by matching them with social media savvy moms that often have previous career experience with marketing.  Jessica explains further, “While our tagline is ‘Reach Moms. With Moms.’ I think companies will find a lot of these moms have impressive experience that reaches beyond the mom market.”  The process behind MomForce is designed to be simple and painless for both the companies and the moms looking for virtual work opportunities.  Once moms submit their profiles, complete with resumes outlining previous marketing experience, companies are then able to search the database for candidates that fit their desired skill set.  The moms are then hired as independent contractors which save companies the expense of additional overhead and employee costs.   This creates the perfect win/win situation, flexible hours for moms and lower costs for companies.

MomForce is a good example of the many creative options available for time-strapped entrepreneurs to join in on the social media bandwagon.  While I feel that social media is done best in-house, I do think alternatives like this are better than nothing.  Social media marketing is here to stay and will only get bigger and better in the years to come.  Entrepreneurs have two choices, to either get on the bus or get run over.

Want more?  Follow me at www.twitter.com/glamajama and be sure to visit www.glamajama.com .

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The rise of social media is undoubtedly one of the biggest changes to happen to marketing since the birth of the internet.  According to a Universal McCann 2008 study, 272 million people are using social media.  Of those 272 million, 77% are reading blogs and approximately 34% of them are posting opinions about companies and [...]

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Brand Monitoring: Why it’s Vital for Keeping Your Brand Strong

Brand monitoring is essentially the process of researching mentions of your brand including its name, officers, products, and more.  This is a vital part of branding for many reasons.  It can help you find brand evangelists, join conversations with prospects, correct misinformation, find opportunities for free publicity, police your trademark, or even find ideas for [...]

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Top 5 Reasons Why You Should Be On Twitter

Without a doubt, one of the hottest things in social media networking these days is Twitter.  The social media and micro-blogging platform was listed as the fastest growing social media application by Neilson’s Media Service in October 2008 as its popularity grew by 343% last year.  The site also received tremendous press last year with [...]

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Bookshelf: The Victorian Internet

I have written on social applications before, but just read this book and it made me re think how we approach technology.  From Amazon: Imagine an almost instantaneous communication system that would allow people and governments all over the world to send and receive messages about politics, war, illness, and family events. The government has tried [...]

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Twitterers actually aren’t twits

Twitter. It’s ridiculous, right? The distractions of visiting a website to provide updates to your “followers” about where you are and what you’re doing. Sounds like such a waste of time! But alas, I beg to differ. From what I’m learning, it’s one of a variety of really effective vehicles to achieve business goals. Developing [...]

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I’m a Square Who’s Behind the Curve

I’m not a techno-phobe; I don’t fear technology. I hate it. Or it hates me. Either, or. Yesterday I read about Web 3.0, which was a little disturbing to me, since, until recently, I thought that Wikipedia was a book for witches and am still unable to switch my Facebook profile from French language-mode. Oh, and I [...]

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My Social Networks Don’t Work At All

Don’t get me wrong. I love to network. I love to go do the face-to-face with clients and customers. I love beatin’ the streets, hittin’ the pavement, knockin’ on doors, etc. But, when it comes to all these social networks, I’m hopelessly, helplessly lost. Just about every day, I have a friend… or a customer… [...]

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