Matter Chatter

How can journalists use Twitter?

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.

  • Matt Mendolera-Schamann

    Honestly, it’s really helpful for journalists just to use Twitter the same way everyone else does – to share interesting links NOT related to what they’re doing, to provide updates on their mood or day, or to air gripes or kudos when they get an email or have a conversation with someone that makes them happy or aggravated. You know as well as I do that the key to pitching media is to research them, not just what they cover, but their interests and preferences too. Seeing what kinds of things they find interesting, amusing or irritating helps us know when not to pick up the phone or press send. I mentioned in my earlier post how I was able to set up an interview with a writer just because he happened to tweet he was having lunch with a competitor. Your contact will find that as long as he dives in and just starts using it, it will prove its usefulness before he even realizes it.

  • Tobi Young

    What I like about Twitter is its like a quick and dirty brainstorm. We know great ideas can come from others good ideas and even some bad ones. Just following people who inspire you, interest you, irritate you and reading their posts can give you a great idea for a pitch. Same for a journalist, following people on Twitter with insight and intellect can spark a great story idea.

    Especially if they are following me and my clients…