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7 steps for connecting and engaging journalists on social media

by guest author Debbie Leven


One of the best things about social media is the removal of barriers and gatekeepers, allowing you to connect directly to people you might not otherwise be able to reach. And that includes journalists!

A former journalist myself, I jumped at the chance to share Debbie’s fab advice on how you can use social media to connect with the media and get publicity for your business.


7 steps for connecting and engaging journalists on social media

You want to get the word out about your business.  I get it.  That’s exactly why you are reading this blog.  And, you know that social media is an incredibly powerful tool for connecting and engaging with exactly those people you want to get in front of.

But, if you’re not using social media to connect and engage with the media too then you could be missing a trick. Why? Because, journalists are using social media just like you and they want to hear from people who have ideas and views that will help them to do their jobs.

But, thinking about finding those opportunities to connect and engage with journalists can feel a bit daunting, and even overwhelming, especially when you have a hundred and one other things to think about with running your business. But, it doesn’t need to feel that way. So, how do you get started?

Read on, here are your 7 steps for connecting and engaging with journalists on social media to increase your profile and build your reputation and credibility. After all, you want potential clients to know about you, trust you and want to do business with you, don’t you? And, that’s what the right media profile can help you achieve.

  1. Find your journalists

Firstly, you need to know who the journalists are you want to connect with. Maybe you already know the key programmes, publications or websites where you want to be seen. If you do then it’s a matter of tracking down the social media pages and handles for those media outlets and also for the individual journalists. The vast majority of journalists use Twitter so that is a good place to start.

If you don’t know the target media outlets then there are a few things you can do to pin down the information:

  • Ask clients/customers and potential customers where they go to get their news and information
  • Use online search engines – type in a keyword for your niche and then add + ‘news’
  • Profile track key influencers and competitors – to find out where they have been featured.
  1. Hang out where they hang out

Media outlets understand the power of social media to connect and engage with their audiences. They are hungry for the reach and connection that social media can give them.

Analyse how they use social media – journalists will favour a particular social nework. Your job is to spot that and tap into it so that you can connect and engage with them there.

  1. Share their content – to get noticed

If you hang out where your key media contacts hang out, share their content, comment on what they are sharing then that gets you on their radar. And, that is your sole aim – to get noticed so that when you do reach out to them with something specific in mind they know who you are.

Remember, it’s not about you, it’s about them. So, keep that in mind. If you don’t know the answer to the question they are asking then see if you can point them towards someone who will. That will help them and get you noticed too.

There’s nothing rocket science about this – it’s all part of a social media strategy based on helping others and doing the things that will get you noticed as well as open up opportunities for you.

  1. Check out media requests

The vast majority of journalists use Twitter. They use it to share and promote content. They also use it to source experts, information and case studies.
Sometimes, the idea of trying to get press and media coverage can feel a bit uncomfortable. But, if journalists are asking for help from people like you then why wouldn’t you want to step in and lend a hand?

On Twitter, journalists use hashtags to label media requests. The hashtag #journorequest is the most popular. But, don’t get sucked into searching for that hashtag and scrolling through lots of tweets that aren’t relevant. It’s much better to put that hashtag together with keywords relevant for your niche so you can make the best use of your time.

But, a word of warning, this isn’t about blatantly promoting your business when you respond. It’s about helping the journalist first and foremost. Get that right and the payback will be huge. But, mess it up and you’ll damage your reputation and trash any hope of building a relationship with them.

I remember seeing a media request from a journalist asking for an expert on insomnia to explain the reasons behind it. Someone replied with a link to a sales page for pillows. Now, let’s get real – that kind of response isn’t going to win you any favours or get you any coverage. In fact, it just makes you look silly and damages your reputation too.

  1. Take it off social media

Social media is a great way to connect with journalists to get on their radar and to demonstrate that you know your stuff. But, at the end of the day you need to take the conversation off social media. You might hint that there is something they might be interested in but you really don’t want to be pitching your ideas, stories or views on social media.

And, just as taking it off social media is important, taking it back onto social is useful too. If you are at the stage where you are emailing ideas for articles to journalists then social media is a great way to wave your hand in the air and prompt a response. Chasing on Twitter is less pushy. For many journalists a quick ‘yes, write the article’ on Twitter seems to be easier than sending through an email.

  1. Your long-term plan

If you’ve done a good job on social media then when your email lands with them about your news story or idea then it will one of the few (of the very many they receive) that they will actually pay attention to. As with social media more generally, you need to think about connecting and engaging with journalists as part of a long-term plan.
So, be clear about what you want to achieve, focus on a handful of media contacts and be consistent in waving your hand in the air to get on their radar

  1. Kick the fear and doubt

It’s all too easy to start off with the best intentions when it comes to connecting and engaging with journalists and then to lose momentum. Fear and doubt can creep in if you don’t get results immediately. You need to be prepared for that. It happens to everyone – not every approach will strike gold.

Remember, journalists are out there and they want to hear from you. But, it doesn’t happen on its own – you have to take action consistently and not get so attached to the outcome. You simply have to stop putting it off, kick the fear to the kerb and just get started and keep on going.

Connecting and engaging with journalists using social media is just one part of the puzzle. You also need to respond in the right way when they ask for help and pitch ‘your story’, your ideas and news in a way that will get them to say ‘yes’. So, follow journalists on social media, connect with them and engage with them so that you are clear about what they are interested in and how you can give that to them while promoting your business at the same time.

Debbie Leven

Debbie Leven is a PR Coach. She helps small business owners and entrepreneurs build their profile, reputation and credibility so that potential customers know about them, trust them and want to do business with them. If you want to take action on finding and connecting with journalists using social media then check out this blog post too on what you need to do next: How to pitch journalists – this is the hack you need

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>> In this free training you'll learn:

  • The number one mistake people make when it comes to their social media content
  • How to generate a month’s worth of content in a few short hours(using the same system I use AND teach my private clients)
  • What works (& what doesn’t) on Facebook and Twitter (with TONS of real examples)
  • How to automate this piece of your social media presence so it works hard getting you noticed while you’re busy doing other stuff

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2 Responses to 7 steps for connecting and engaging journalists on social media

  1. Lilach Bullock April 14, 2016 at 15:51 #

    Great article Debbie! As you say ultimately it’s about taking action and being consistent :)

  2. Catarina Andrade April 17, 2016 at 18:52 #

    So useful Debbie! several of these have worked a charm for me and I now have some new ideas :)

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