by Chris Metinko, Media Relations Specialist,Business Wire/San Francisco
These questions and many others were tackled at PR News’ The Big 3 Conference: Twitter/Pinterest/Facebook in San Francisco last week. The conference — which was sponsored by Business Wire and attracted a few hundred media and public relation specialists — featured nearly a dozen panels on the do’s and don’ts in using social media’s biggest names for marketing and outreach.
“Social media is a remarkable tool for self annihilation,” joked Walter Neary, a public relations director for Comcast in Washington state, while sitting on a panel discussing how to use Twitter to gain a competitive edge in media relations.
The panel examined if and how journalists use Twitter in their reporting. A recent study by Oriella showed 55 percent of reporters use social media to find stories from sources and 43 percent verified stories using social media. Nearly 50 percent have professional Twitter profiles.
With so many journalists on Twitter, the social media platform can be an important tool for building a relationship with reporters and even pitching possible story ideas.
Laura Perry, director of communications at UCLA School of Nursing, said in order to do that, it’s important to create a profile that attracts reporters. She added you also must be active and participate on the platform to effectively use it with journalists.
“Listen, reply, retweet,” Perry said was a good mantra.
Perry added Twitter even could be a good way to meet face-to-face with reporters, since many journalists use Tweetups — an event where people who Twitter come together to meet in-person — to build relationships with sources.
Neary said there are a handful of keys to keep in mind while using Twitter in communications work, including: know your community and who you are engaging, have a clear purpose, read anything at least three times before you post and be genuine.
“Reporters expect you to be full of crap because you’re a PR person . . . Be genuine,” said Neary, adding it also is important to take chances.
”If you don’t take risks, you aren’t using (social media) tools properly,” he said.