As long as I can remember, I’ve been afraid of the phone. Countless times throughout my childhood, I was a no-show at dentist appointments, DMV tests, and restaurant reservations because I didn’t have the courage to call and reschedule. This fear was exacerbated to the extreme during my first internship when I was responsible for answering the phone at my London PR agency. “Who’s calling?” I would ask, as if I had any chance of catching the name that came from the other end of the line. This is all a roundabout way of explaining how excited I was when, this year, I learned about the cool new PR trick: Twitter pitching.
If you’re in PR, you know that journalists live on Twitter. It’s where they look for news, communicate with one another, and announce personal and professional updates. Most journalists are presumably on the platform to engage outside of their ever-flooded email inboxes, so Twitter is a fantastic place to catch journalists in an open-minded, explorative mood.
Twitter pitching is pretty different than email pitching. While with emails we often feel as though we’re shouting into the abyss, twitter pitching can take a more casual, friendly tone. Use what the reporter is already tweeting about – polls they’ve posted, other reporters they’ve responded to, news they’ve retweeted from their publication – as a springboard and starting topic to catch their attention. More so than email, a Twitter profile shows a reporter’s personality and a look into their communication styles. Use this to your advantage. When you come onto a new account, follow the reporters that cover the industry. Learn which ones are friendly towards PR people, which ones write PR-bashing tweets, and which ones have their DMs open.
On the topic of DMs, there are two ways to approach Twitter pitching. There’s the public method of actually tweeting at someone, and there’s the DM method. Keep in mind that while not all journalists have their DMs open to people they don’t follow back, you can tweet directly at anyone. When pitching by way of DM, be sure to have a good hook- maybe it’s a topic the reporter just tweeted about or a really relevant headline for the story you’re pitching. There is no character limit on DMs, so you can add some additional color as to why the reporter should be interested in your topic of choice. When pitching by actual tweet, you need to be clear and concise, while still being punchy enough to stand out in the noise of tweet replies that reporters may be inundated with. Be quick, be strategic, and know what will make your tweet stand out. Also, remember that everyone can see your tweet- so be careful when tweeting your pitch for the world to see!
All in all, Twitter pitching may just be the phone pitch of the future. It’s a great place for journalists and PR pros to collaborate away from the emails that we’re all inundated with on a daily basis. I’ve been in countless situations when I’m scared to pick up the phone, or scared that I’ll catch the reporter on the phone at a bad time. But when it comes to Twitter, you’re still approaching a reporter outside of email, but they have all the details in front of them, they’re checking Twitter at their leisure, and they tend to be looking for news. With that being said, happy tweeting!