Building Relationships Still Key to Success
It’s often said that it takes work to make a marriage work. Melding two lives, lifestyles and families is a constant challenge. Business relationships are more transactional, working best when each party has an understanding of the others’ specific needs and they can strive together toward a common goal.
Media relationships are somewhere in between – often having the transactional nature of the business relationship, but based on a somewhat more intimate level of understanding between the parties involved. It’s through that more intimate level of understanding that you can build a closer connection – in general, and especially in social media.
From a media relations standpoint, SPRYTE has found that Twitter offers an excellent avenue and opportunities for achieving a closer connection with print media targets via social media.
Understand the Reporter’s Needs and Interests
Being able to build such connections, of course, is part of the PR playbook.
To do that, you need to understand a reporter’s needs and interests. What motivates him/her? The best way to start? Simple. Follow them. Spend several days (or weeks) getting to know what topics and stories interest them. What are they writing about? What else are they reading – and sharing via their Twitter feeds? What do their comments tell you about how they think? Maybe you’ll be able to identify some personal characteristics or interests that will come in handy later.
Make sure to share articles they write (especially if they involve you or your client), and to accompany the share with a favorable comment of your own (if warranted, naturally). Don’t forget to include to mention “@YourBusinessHandle” in the messaging.
More and more media outlets are using social media analytics to gauge the popularity and impact of their news talent, so there can be some real value from their standpoint. Be active, but don’t be obsequious.
Direct messaging, of course, can be a great advantage if you and your target reporter follow each other. And once you’ve established the rapport, you can follow-up with email, if it’s more convenient.
Seeing it in Action
Often, a simple “heads up” about an upcoming event can be enough to spur interest. Not long ago, one of our hospice clients was planning a special Gift of A Day (perfect day realized) for a patient – our client had rented out an old-time movie theater for a special screening of “Singin’ In The Rain” for her and her family. There was also a limo, a red carpet, a professional singer and greeters in yellow raincoats to help lend excitement.
Our target journalist was a community reporter for a Northeast Ohio daily newspaper. Based on her Twitter feed, it was evident she favored “human interest” type stories such as this. A Twitter message intrigued her enough to follow-up:
The Tweet led to a series of back and forth emails through which we set her up with interviews with family members and client staff, as well as the owners of the theater hosting the event.
The result was a huge feature story in the Akron Beacon-Journal on the front page of the community section, complete with color photos of the patient, family, limo, red carpet and raingear-garbed attendants.
Could we have done it without Twitter? Probably. But Twitter gave us the ability to quickly review our target, ascertain her interests, and deliver a short, enticing message designed just for her.
Twitter can be a time-saver as well as a strategic tool. But like any tool, you need to spend some time and experiment with it in order to become an expert craftsman.