How can journalists use Twitter?

By Matter

I was on the phone recently with a senior reporter from one of my client’s top-tier trade publications, and we were talking about Twitter. It turns out that his publication has a Twitter feed, but the reporter doesn’t have his own account or contribute to the pub’s feed. He claimed that he didn’t know what he’d use it for, but was still a bit intrigued by the communication medium. I saw the opportunity to offer him some information and suggestions outside of the normal thought leadership and company news I would normally pitch, and I promised to write up a list of ways he could use Twitter.

So I sat at my computer , unsure of what to say, and getting increasingly agitated at the unmoving cursor as it blinked away, mocking my inability to come up with the ideas I promised. Eventually, I figured there were a few basic things he could do, like tweet about his articles to drive traffic to them. I mentioned sending out appeals to his PR followers for sources for upcoming stories (I suggested this one rather selfishly – I thought it’d be clever to respond to one of his first tweets with a source). I also suggested he use Twitter to provide sneak peeks to upcoming pieces, and announce new webinars that were scheduled for the pub’s Web site.

And while I feel like my suggestions were helpful, especially for a person who wants to use Twitter but hasn’t before, he still hasn’t signed up and used it. Naturally, being the neurotic PR guy that I am, I worry that what I provided wasn’t creative or specific enough for him to become a full-fledged Twitter-freak like so many other journalists.

So I ask the larger PR community: How can journalists use Twitter to make their jobs easier? What are some of the ways we, as PR and communication professionals, would like the media to use this tool.