3 Ways to Make Your PR Plans More Social

20 years ago, businesses wanting to share their news or message with the media would craft a press release and media kit, fax or mail them to reporters, and then follow-up with phone calls.  10 years ago the formula was much the same, with email replacing faxing and mail.  Today, the landscape has vastly changed.

I had dinner this week with one of my friends who is a reporter for a local news station.  She told me that she turns more and more to Twitter to reach out for interviews, find local sources,  and gather information for her stories.  She also said it’s her preferred method of being reached for follow-us.  Why?  Because it’s instant, convenient, and more likely to grab her attention.  And despite what your PR professors may have told you, she said the phone call follow-ups are not only a waste of time, but a huge annoyance to reporters who are inundated with hundreds of emails each day and working on tight deadlines.

I, too, have found the old way of pitching ad distributing news releases to be less effective, and I’ve seen how it’s often easier to reach reporters through social media than via phone or email.  I think that’s the case for several reasons, two of them being:

  1. It’s more efficient.  Reporters don’t have time to read hundreds of three to five paragraph pitches every day.  If you can pitch the story in 140 characters or less, reporters are more likely to read it , and your pitch is much more likely to be focused.  Less really is more sometimes.
  2. You’re meeting reporters where they already are.  Gone are the days of thumbing through bulky media kits.  More and more reporters are using social media to research stories.  89% of journalists report using blogs as research sources.  65% say they use Facebook and LinkedIn, and more than half use Twitter.

What are three practical ways you can integrate social media into your PR plans?

  • Use social media to build relationships with reporters.  Use Twitter, LinkedIn, or Facebook to start conversations with reporters and help them out by responding to their needs.  Example: Work in healthcare?  Set up healthcare related search terms on Twitter and be the first to respond when a reporter is looking for a source or quote about flu season.  You’ll become their go-to-source for stories and information in the future.
  • Reach out to bloggers.  Sharing your story through blogging can be just as effective as garnering coverage through more traditional news sources.  And with nearly 90% of reporters using blogs for research, stories on highly trafficked blogs are likely to get picked up by other media sources.  Pitch your story to industry bloggers, or offer to do a guest post.
  • Create a virtual media kit.  Traditional media kits are not just outdated, they’re expensive.  Create an online or PDF version that’s available on your website, blog, LinkedIn, and/or Facebook page.  This gives reporters instant access to the information they need.  When applicable, include a link to your media kit in press releases.

How has your PR strategy changed with the growing popularity of social media? Join the conversation on Twitter using the hashtag #SocialPR.