Social Media and Media Relations: Is it worth your time? July 18, 2012

By Amoya Edwards

We’ve found a way to turn a leisure form of communication into one of the fastest growing practices in the communications industry  So, it’s no surprise that social media has its “haters.” Forbes contributor Robert Wynne, known for tackling the nuances and misconceptions of public relations, recently wrote the article, Is Social Media A Waste of Time?, in this article he attempts to disprove the theory that social media is beneficial to the practice of public relations and more explicitly, the task of media relations.

Wynne’s argument is solid with quotes from experts backing his opinion that face-to- face communication weighs more than a Facebook friend request. Face-to-face may carry more weight, but social media has become an increasingly popular form of communication between professionals and peers across different industries. And, in the relationship between reporters and PR pros, there is beauty in social media. Tweeting or friend requesting will never replace the effectiveness of in-person meetings with journalists and building dependable relationships, but it can (and has) worked effectively to provide an open door to establish them.

As a fresh face to the professional PR circuit, I find myself researching innovative ways to improve my pitching skills. Since I’m constantly on Twitter and moderately on Facebook, I figured there had to be an effective way to reach journalists from my media lists using these mediums – and I did. Below are two important things you need to remember when using social media to pitch to the news media – especially if you think social media is a waste of time.

Twitter is the way, the truth and the light when it comes to media connections via social media.

In a blog post titled, How Can You Effectively Pitch to Media These Days?, author Courtney Cooper says, “The immediacy and effectiveness of hitting a media contact on Twitter is far more efficient than sending them one of 300 emails they are getting that day, or calling them.” She even suggested creating a column in Tweetdeck or Hootsuite with reporters you’d like to keep a close eye on to see what stories they’re working on, etc. As a follower you can retweet their stories and interact with them on this “personal” level. This breaks the ice a

nd although you may not have met in person yet, you have established a Twitter connection, which in today’s society goes a long way. So, get your tweet on. TIP: you can find the Twitter and social media information for many journalists at muckrack.com.

Leave the Facebook wall alone. Its personal!

Francy Wade, TV producer turned director of PR at Inkhouse in Boston put it like this in a blog post, “Aggressively calling and emailing a person to get them to hear your pitch is one thing, but don’t cross the line to stalker. If you have connected on Twitter, direct messages are OK. But Facebook is different. It’s personal.” So, leave it to Twitter and LinkedIn, will you?

In learning these two important lessons, I found that social media is not a waste of time. It’s quite helpful, actually.

How do you feel about social media in media relations? Tweet me @amoyaedwards or comment below and let me know your thoughts!

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