5 Tips for Engaging with Reporters on Twitter

With two thirds of Americans using social media to get their news, it’s no surprise that those who report the news also utilize and participate in social media. With a news feed updating almost non-stop, the design of Twitter uniquely positions itself as source for breaking news and is therefore an ideal platform for journalists. Additionally, the site allows journalists to stay up-to-date on new developments within their beat and creates a space for dialogue and feedback on news. When engaging with reporters on Twitter it is important to remember that while they may be an authority and leader within their subject matter, they are people just like us with interests and opinions, so it is best to keep it real. However, when engaging with journalists with the intent to pitch a product or idea, there are certain best practices that may help you stand out. Here are 5 tips for engaging with reporters on Twitter:

Set-up a professional account

If your goal is to engage with reporters on behalf of your company or client then setting up a new professional account allows you the freedom to cultivate a social presence free from worry of past tweets re-surfacing. You should choose a profile picture that is professional and is easy to see, and have a straightforward bio. It should be immediately clear who you are and what your goal is by hovering over your name. If you would rather not set up a separate account for fear of losing some of your personal flair, that is ok, but when mixing work and personal time it is important to be more mindful. This includes what profile picture you choose and how you describe yourself, as well as what you say and tweets you ‘like’. Expressing interests is good, liking or Tweeting inappropriate statements while also wanting to be taken seriously, is not.

Research the expert

What is your end goal for engaging with journalists on Twitter? What do you want them to cover? With your end goal in mind, mindfully choose who to follow. If you work for an agency and want to engage with reporters from varying beats, then Twitter lists is a helpful tool to utilize as it allows you to categorize reporters and stay up to date on what reporters covering that topic are talking about.

Learn the art of lurking

Before jumping in and engaging with reporters you know nothing about, it is best to start slow. Ease into your engagement. Follow the reporters you want to build a rapport with to first see what their interests are and what they’re writing about. Become familiar with them by learning what they like, both professionally and personally. You might find you have something in common that might not be immediately obvious from their job title or beat.

Engage softly, build a rapport and pay it forward

Once you feel comfortable initiating engagement, begin by taking small steps such as favoriting or retweeting them before progressing into retweeting with comment or responding directly. Once you do begin engaging directly, provide positive feedback, resources, or pay it forward by sharing their article in your other networks. These small engagements will notify them and start to put your name and profile on their radar.

Pitch them

Once you’ve built a rapport with a journalist then start to test the waters by responding with a pitch or asking if you can DM them to talk more in depth.

In summary, when engaging with reporters on Twitter you should keep it real. The first step is to simply engage with what they’re saying, either by liking their tweets, chiming in to add to the conversation or responding with feedback to an article they wrote. The key is to slowly build a relationship. When you Tweet at them your name will pop up. Once you’ve established a rapport when you email them they might be more apt to open your pitch because they recognize your name. Depending on the relationship you’ve built and how often that reporter uses Twitter you might find that you can DM them and send your pitch via Twitter instead of email.

Lindsey is a public relations expert who joined the Circa team in January 2018. She currently manages media relations for professors from multiple universities, in a variety of disciplines, helping connect them with relevant opportunities to increase their thought leadership and program exposure. Graduating with honors from Virginia Tech with both a bachelors and masters in Communication, Lindsey understands how to bridge the gap between academia and the media in order to facilitate and support the spread of credible news. Lindsey has obtained media placements for professors in outlets such as The Washington Post, Forbes and Scientific American. Connect with Lindsey on Twitter: @lindsey_baumann

The Anatomy of a PR Pitch – How to Structure & Standardize Pitching Across Your Team

As any PR or communications professional knows, pitching is the single most important skill to possess. While there are various approaches and styles to this, it’s important to find a structure and style for pitching that has had proven success within your industry and then standardize that formula across your team. So how can you streamline the process of pitching to make team members as successful and efficient as possible? First, it’s important to identify the key components that make up every well-rounded PR pitch. While each pitch can, and often will, look a little different, we have found that there are four primary components that should be included in every pitch. Here are the four core components and their definitions:

Lead

The lead is the angle into your story. Keep this as short and concise as possible. A lead should be comprised of one of the following:

    • A news peg is a trending story or topic in the news that relates to what you’re pitching. For example, leveraging the presidential debate or a new medical study that was just released. This allows you to hook the reader with a relevant and widespread story.
    • A time peg represents an upcoming date or event. For example, anniversaries of days like 9/11 or Hurricane Katrina, days or weeks dedicated to specific causes like “Health IT Week” or “Mental Health Awareness Day,” or even months like “Breast Cancer Awareness Month.” These types of dates and events can be easily leveraged for PR purposes as media outlets will often shape content around significant or relevant time pegs. In order to keep track and take advantage of these dates, it’s helpful to create and consistently update an internal editorial calendar with your team.
Call to action (CTA)

This is the action that you want your audience to take. For instance, in our case this would often include speaking with a professor or publishing an infographic or blog on behalf of our clients.

Value proposition

This is where you allow yourself to stand out and differentiate yourself from the competition. Demonstrate the significance of what you’re pitching and why it’s important. What value would it provide to their publication and readership? How does it relate to the larger story? These are some of the questions you should address.

Conclusion

Quickly thank them for their time and reiterate what your goal or call to action (CTA) is. Keep this brief and to the point.

There are questions that you should always be asking yourself when writing a pitch. Here are a few of the important ones to keep in mind:

  • Who is your audience?
  • What is the larger story?
  • Why should they care about what you’re pitching?
  • What value does this provide them?
  • What story are you creating in your pitch?

To see how this formula looks in practice, I’ve included a pitch below which is color coded based on the four components I described above.

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Caroline-Black-and-White-tan-3-4Caroline brings a wealth of knowledge in communications, marketing, and account management to the Circa Interactive team, and she has worked with partners such as HP, Cisco, and Adobe. Graduating with honors in Business Administration and Marketing from the University of Oregon in 2011, Caroline now plays a key role in Circa Interactive’s digital PR strategy by building long term relationships with internationally recognized media outlets on behalf of our clients.

Four Lessons from my Internship in Digital Marketing

Entering a digital marketing internship can be intimidating, especially when the field is in higher education, where you’re being counted on by universities to professionally represent them and help spread their messages. While the responsibilities at Circa Interactive can be greater than many other internship settings, they ultimately drive you to become dedicated to your work and learn new skills at a high level. Here are four empowering lessons I learned during my time at Circa.

1. Ask for Criticism: It’s How You Grow

Throughout my internship, new concepts and ideas were constantly flying my way. Building out a social calendar, creating media lists on Cision for pitches, and writing pitches that will reach editors of major publications are likely new tasks for someone just entering the digital marketing field. In order to become familiar with one of these new tasks, digital marketers should take their time, but mistakes are bound to happen (which isn’t a bad thing). But sometimes you don’t know if you’re approaching a list from the wrong angle or if your pitch isn’t quite tailored to your list in the most relevant manner possible, which is why asking for criticism is so important. I’ve always thought of positive feedback as criticism only half-baked, so I made it a goal to seek out what it is I do correctly AS WELL AS incorrectly, using the talent pool in the office as a resource for any questions or problems I encountered.

2. Be Flexible and Experiment (with Pitches)

The work environment at Circa is about exploring better ways to accomplish your goals. This can be seen in everything from daily collaboration to how the team shares ideas in the online chat tool called Slack, as well as the weekly editorial meetings that serve as a mini incubator session. You’re given the green light to be flexible and experiment with how you market content and connect professors with the media, so do it! For example, when writing dozens of pitches per week, a little tweak in the subject line or the way you introduce your infographic can really make a difference in the number of responses and publications. You won’t know what works unless you try.

3. Use Social Media as a Daily Learning Experience

Writing copy for social media at Circa Interactive is a truly unique experience, because Circa works with a diverse range of higher education programs. That means every time you build a Facebook/Twitter social calendar for one of the dozens of programs, you’re keeping up to date with the industry news, trends and innovations taking place in such diverse fields as computer science, marketing, and engineering. The goal is to educate the program’s current and prospective audience, which means the person writing the copy for the social calendars has to put in a lot of research. This is why I embraced social media, because it allowed me to keep learning while coming across content that could end up being the lead in the next perfect pitch for our media outreach.

4. Peg ‘em

The ultimate goal when pitching to a journalist is to satisfy the question, “Why should they care?” It’s usually not enough just to have crisp, educational, enticing content. Like most things in marketing, a pitch should be relevant and time sensitive. Attaching (or “pegging”) a recent event in the news relevant to your prospect and pitch can help answer the above question. Think about it, you’re competing against dozens if not hundreds of emails at a time to get an editor’s attention. Just like everything in life, that extra step can be the difference between hearing crickets and landing an opportunity.

Working in higher education has given me a great appreciation for how important digital marketing is to the success of our programs, their students, and the educational system as a whole. These past 4 months at Circa have been instrumental in packing my digital marketing arsenal, which I plan to use for my family’s business as well as for my future business endeavors.

Dennis Donchev is a marketing intern at Circa Interactive and a student at San Diego State University.