01 Feb 2012

HOW TO: Use Social Networking to Effectively Build Media & PR Contacts (Tools and Tips)

The majority of journalists are involved in social media already: journalists use social media to collect and syndicate the news as well as (which is so important to us, marketers) find sources to cite. Journalists are in constant search for original (first-hand) news and article ideas. Social media sites make it very easy to track sources down.

Would you like to be in popular journalists’ contact books? Would you like to have the list of influential reporters to share your important news next time you have any? Would you like to be cited in popular (both print and online) media outlets? If so, be sure to bookmark the following tools and tips.

Note: While the focus of this article is primarily on building media and PR contacts using social media, you are never limited to one use only. Feel free to apply these tips to find local bloggers, representatives of huge educational institutions, editors, etc – anyone who could be happy to grant you with a well-deserved (and highly valuable!) link in exchange for your timely or useful content.


Twitter: Finding Journalists by Company

Twitter is highly breaking-news-oriented and therefore Journalists love it.

In a study of “j-tweeters”, Lasorsa et al. (2011) found that journalists express opinions more freely on Twitter, write more often about their lives and their jobs, engage in direct conversations with users, and share user-generated content.

Here’s the best way to find journalists on Twitter: bio search. Most professional journalists mention the name of the newspaper or magazine they work for in the bio section, so all you need is to search Twitter bios by that name.

Twiangulate is a great tool for that. It supports some common boolean operators that help make your search more targeted towards your industry:

  • Both words should be present in the bio: hot & dog (in our case this can be “Name of the newspaper” & “Topic of expertise”)
  • One of the words should be present in the bio: hot | dog
  • All bios with one word but NOT with the other one: hot !dog
  • Exact match: “hot dog”

Twiangulate


Twitter: Finding Local Journalists

Another highly useful Twitter bio search tool is LocaFollow that lets you combine a few relevant search queries (for example, location and a word in a bio).

Thus it can be a great source of local journalists on Twitter. The search results are also highly informative: you can see how long each journalist tweets, how many followers he/she has, what his/her latest tweet was and how old that last tweet is:

LocaFollow

How cool is that?


LinkedIn: Getting Introduced

LinkedIn is the most popular and the fastest-growing social network populated by journalists because it provides the easiest and most reliable way for reporters to connect with sources.

LinkedIn is thus highly effective when it comes to both discovering and building new media contacts.

It’s best feature: the ability to ask your current contact to introduce you to another member he/she is directly connected with.

LinkedIn built-in search is perfect for finding “2nd degree”* contacts at any company (*”2nd degree” means you have a common direct contact who can introduce you).

  1. The left-hand sidebar panel lets you filter results by company
  2. The top panel lets you sort search results by relationship level:

Media connections at LinkedIn

Besides, you can subscribe to regular updates to be alerted of new members of the media company (to be one of the very first social media contacts of the newcomer: the earlier you connect, the better you remember!)

Linkedin alerts

My Web Career (this tool seems to be currently down) is an awesome tool for discovering and visualizing your current connections at a media company you are interested in. Just look through your contacts’ current companies – the connection is visualized through the line color and thickness:

  • Red Links means current position
  • Blue Links means previous positions
  • Link Thickness visualizes time at company.

LinkedIn media connections

And here’s my network connection to Google:

MyWebCareer


Conclusion: First Contact

  1. Follow the Journalists: journalists often post questions or polls for upcoming story content. The more you get involved and help them, the better you know each other! Creating a separate Twitter list to have all your media contacts in one place as well as follow them more effectively (through a separate column in Tweetdeck, for example) is another essential step to strengthening your relationships.
  2. Touching Base? Offer to be useful. There’s no way to build effective business connections by asking for a link (or to be cited) just outright. Start from offering something before asking for anything.

Good luck!

Comments

  1. Kirsten February 1, 2012 at 8:24 PM

    Great post. It can be very difficult sometimes to build good connections or links, and you’ve got some great step-by-step instructions here that explain some key steps to building those relationships. I’m loving some of these tools, too!

  2. Ralph du Plessis March 12, 2012 at 6:25 PM

    nice post Ann. Twiangulate is similar to Followerwonk I guess, but both brilliant tools!

  3. Shaad Hamid March 17, 2012 at 5:18 AM

    This is a gem of an article! Excellent tips; thanks so much for sharing. Would also be useful to list out steps and tips after you’ve spotted and followed journalists. The whole process can seem a bit intimidating :)

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