An energetic group delivered power punches during the 2013 PRSA Annual Media Panel session hitting hard on social media as a tool to reach the media. But don’t toss traditional channels such as phone calls and email out the window. Some reporters still return voice messages and like to receive more details after an initial pitch through email.
Participants included Paul Milliken @paulfromfox5, feature reporter/meteorologist for Fox 5; Mike Neumeier @arketi, principal for Arketi Group and moderator; Sonia Moghe @soniamoghe, reporter for CBS Atlanta News; John Bachman @BachmanWSB, anchor/reporter for WSB; and Julie Wolfe @juliewolfe, director of engagement and social media for WXIA.
It’s basically a given, but reporters and anchors are inundated with emails. Wolfe shared she has about 9,000 emails in her inbox, many of which are unread, but has no unread messages on Twitter. All of the panelists (and a number of other reporters we’ve met) are open to short pitches via Facebook and Twitter. In fact, our panelists often turn to online networks (i.e. BuzzFeed, Slate, Gawker, and more) for top stories and look to social media channels to find real people/characters to tell the local angle.
Don’t give everything away! Bachman warns that he’s still traditional in the sense that he doesn’t want to cover a story that everyone else is already covering. With 140 characters, pitches have to be short, straight-to the point and engaging enough to catch a reporter’s attention. For example, the Georgia Aquarium tweeted Milliken a photo as a teaser. Once it caught his attention, Milliken responded that he was interested and the Georgia Aquarium provided more details.
Social media pitching is a new horizon. With the nature of each medium and preference of individual reporters, keep in mind that Facebook is great for features and family stories while Twitter is better for breaking and timely news.
Media relations is, has and always will be about building relationships. So do your homework. And if you want to get to know a reporter over coffee or drinks, find out the best days and times to contact them, the best channels and know their beat and topics of interest. And since relationships go two-ways, have a few relevant pitches and story angles prepared they can immediately bring back to the office.