How to connect to reporters through social media

Journalists are leveraging social media to distribute news content and engage their communities. They are also looking for news stories.

Media outlets have made it very easy for you to connect with reporters by listing the bios of their journalists as well as links to their social media accounts and email addresses.  Here are a few examples:

CTV News Ottawa
CTV News Ottawa provides a list reporters with links the outlet’s Facebook, Google+ and Twitter accounts. If you click on an individual reporter, you’ll have access to their bio, Twitter account and email address.

Image of CTV Ottawa(click to enlarge)

The Ottawa Citizen
Many outlets maintain Twitter lists of their current reporters. The Ottawa Citizen is one  of them.  Nine times out of ten, reporters will outline what they cover along with contact details in their profile. This is a great way to quickly find the reporter who covers topics that will be relevant for your business.

Image of Ottawa Citizen(click to enlarge)

The Globe and Mail
Every Globe and Mail reporter, columnist and contributor has a page on the Globe and Mail site that feature bios, contact information, RSS feeds and Twitter feeds.  What we like about this outlets’ page is that after linking to a journalist, it provides a  list of their ‘latest stories’ so that you can get a sense of their writing style and what they cover to better target your pitch.

Image of Globe and Mail(click to enlarge)

We recommend building a relationship first before pitching to journalists directly through Twitter or Facebook. It’s a great way to find the right media contacts and craft the right story to pitch through traditional channels.


About the Author
Deanna White has always been passionate about marketing and public relations. Owner of storylinePR, Deanna is best known for taking it beyond the pitch. For building brands & bottom lines with the right channels to share your story.

Tips on DIY media outreach

Finding the right media contact is not an easy task, especially as of late, with media continually evolving  and reporters changing roles and outlets.  One would think that it would be easier given the digital media landscape with information literally at our  finger tips – but that’s not necessarily the case. Twitter accounts with profiles descriptions such as “Ottawa Citizen Reporter” are not overly helpful in finding the right media contact at The Citizen to share your story, am I right?

In a perfect world, reporters would update their social media accounts with bio information that described what they cover in more detail. Here are a few examples of Ottawa Citizen reporters who do this well.  (Most reporters from the Citizen and other outlets also do this well – we chose these three examples – there are others.  In addition, many twitter accounts for media outlets also provide twitter lists of their reporters by topic).  

At a quick glance, you can tell if your story is the right fit for these reporters:

Image of Janet Wilson's twitter profileImage of Pauline Tam's Twitter profileSome even provide email addresses to share story ideas and invite followers to other social media channels as in this last example.

Image of Meghan Hurley's Twitter profile

3 Steps to a Successful Pitch  

Beyond the obvious of delivering news value, the key to pitching  is to understand reporters and what they’re really looking for. I recommend that if you want to dabble in DIY media outreach, that you follow these three steps.

  1. Read the tweets and Facebook updates from media outlets.
  2. Watch the conversations being created around the news that is being reported.  Follow Twitter feeds. Be an observer of news for your industry.
  3. Follow the source of the news. Find the names of the reporters who cover your specific topic and search for articles by those reporters.  Subscribe to their feeds. Get a sense of their writing style, what they do and do not cover to better target your pitch.

One last thing…

When pitching a story idea, it’s important to understand the life of a reporter. Here is a link to an older post you might find helpful, or at the very least – insightful.

Reporters, I ask you this…

Wouldn’t it be nice to read ONLY pitches on topics you cover? Granted, this approach of full disclosure on social media profiles, may open the floodgates to more pitches. It will also not stop the non-news marketing pitches being disguised as press releases, nor will it stop those who do not do their homework, but don’t you think it will lessen the number of times you have to hit the delete key? Who knows – there may be gem or two in there that you would have not otherwise received!

add a little Google juice to your PR

One of the most effective ways to tap into news about your industry is through Google Alerts. Not only is it free, but also provides you with some valuable insight and enhances your PR efforts.

Using Google Alerts will help you…

  • Know what media coverage your competitors are getting.
  • Monitor a developing news story about your products and services.
  • Find out what news angles are of interest to journalists for your industry.
  • Target reporters and editors who are interested in your space.

Here’s how it works:

  1. You enter a query that you’re interested in.
  2. Google Alerts checks regularly to see if there are new results for your query.
  3. If there are new results, Google Alerts sends them to you in an email.

I recommend to all clients who want to stay abreast of what’s happening in the news to set up several alerts.

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jump-start your PR in 2011

As 2010 comes to a close and we look ahead to 2011, I can’t help but reflect on the achievements for my clients, my business and the industry as a whole.  2010 has, without a doubt , been an extremely challenging but rewarding year for the PR industry and it has laid a solid foundation for the work that lies ahead.  In 2011, as I enter my 11th year of business, I will be launching a new  product that will  bring storylinePR clients a blend of  both traditional and  progressive approaches to PR – all powered by relationships.  And here is the best part – it’s local.  A new way to connect Ottawa’s key business people, organizations and media. I am so excited and can’t wait to share more!  I also plan to continue to provide my best tips through this blog, Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook pages.

In the face of social media PR in 2011, I would like to take this opportunity to jump-start the new year for my loyal readers by sharing a few tips for focused and actionable PR results in 2011.  Happy New Year everyone – in the spirit of anticipation and great things to come!

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a little PR history

Public relations became a profession in 1903. One of the founding fathers of PR, Ivy Lee advised John D. Rockefeller, who owned coal mines and the Pennsylvania Railroad. Miners were on strike and the railroad hushed up the facts when its trains were involved with accidents. Lee advised Rockefeller to visit the coal mines and talk to the miners. Rockefeller spent time listening to the complaints of the miners, improved their conditions and became a hero to the miners.

After a railroad accident, Lee invited reporters to inspect the wreck and get the facts. The Pennsylvania Railroad obtained its first favourable press coverage and Lee professionalized public relations by following these principles:

  1. Tell the truth
  2. Provide accurate facts
  3. Give reporters access to top management

Today, the world of PR  has changed dramatically but those basic principals for crisis PR have not.

and the angels sing (ahhh)!

[tweetmeme source=”storylinePR” only_single=false]It was so refreshing to meet with a client the other day who gets it. When sitting down to hammer out the key messaging for a news release, I was delighted to hear the words that were music to my ears… “I want you to position me as an expert”. Enter the harp accompanied by angelic voices.

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the truth about the newsroom – straight-up!

[tweetmeme source=”storylinePR” only_single=false]WARNING: What follows is a harsh reality that may offend some readers.  Viewer discretion is advised.

Ask reporters what they want from pitch to coverage – their top-ten list might look something like this:

  1. Do your homework. Know exactly what I do and do not cover. Don’t waste my time and I won’t waste yours.
  2. When you pitch, show me you have taken the time to find out what I’m interested in and compose a note meant to appeal to me.
  3. Please be accessible once you pitch your story. Your marketing manager is not a suitable substitute.
  4. Return my phone call – even if you’re just calling to tell me you don’t know the answers to my questions! I work to a deadline.
  5. Make it easy for me to cover your story – send me multimedia that will add to your news.
  6. “Speak my language.” Don’t talk in jargon or industry-speak. I know you’re smart – that’s why I’m interviewing you. If I don’t understand you, then I can’t explain it to my readers, (listeners / viewers)
  7. Give me a quote to punch up my story. And remember, nothing is off the record – so please don’t tell me what I can and cannot use.
  8. It’s OK to follow up – but please don’t call to ask me if I received the press release you just sent. I have them by the hundreds in my inbox… and yours was which one exactly? When you do follow up, pitch your idea in 30 seconds or less and add some value to the contents of the release. Oh, and please don’t call me when I’m filing my stories. One word… “Deadline”
  9. I get that you want coverage, otherwise you wouldn’t be contacting me, but don’t send your news release to three other reporters I work with too! What’s worse is if I find out you pitched the same story to every media outlet in the city – I’ll kill the story.
  10. Don’t ask me why I’m not running with your story. I’m answerable only to my editor. It’s likely because it lacked real substance and news value. I report news. Period.

What reporters really want is usually pretty simple. They want their calls returned, a quote for their story and they want to do their job and go home.   Read more…

creating a healthy balance for news and SEO

[tweetmeme source=”storylinePR” only_single=false]Reporters are trained to write balanced articles and similarly, a healthy balance in writing a quality optimized news release will garnish significant traffic from potential clients, interest from editors and higher overall rankings on your selected keywords.

There is a fine balance. To successfully rank highly in search engines and with journalists, the words in your news release should never be an afterthought, but rather, a strategic investment in your search engine optimization campaign.

Choose your words carefully. Adding keywords for the sake of SEO create awkward headlines and body copy which results in diminished news value and unnatural content. Ensure keywords are sprinkled methodically to produce a legitimate outcome. Too many keys words can and will work against you and the wrong keywords won’t add a thing to your story.

Everything in moderation. Excessive use of back links scream “spam” and have journalists reaching for the delete key faster than the first sentence can be read. One back link to a relevant page on a website, (preferably to a newsroom), integrating a good mix of information and multi-media into a single set of results is best. If a journalist or blogger wants to read more –this is where they should find it.

Quality over quantity. Have a sound news release distribution strategy in place and make an effort to get it in the hands of journalists and influencers who have a genuine interest in your story. There are several ways to reach them – but do shy away from directories, (AKA free press release sites). You can do a more efficient job at distributing your news than a release directory can.

An optimized news release can be an extremely effective marketing tool and when created with balance in mind, you will not only build traffic and interest from editors, but also your online reputation.

how to tell stories for print and broadcast media

[tweetmeme source=”storylinePR” only_single=false]Once you have told your story in a release and you have been successful in securing an interview, telling the story to a journalist all of a sudden becomes intimidating for most.  It’s natural… it’s the fear of the unknown – so I have created some quick tips on interviews by media type.  These tips have been published in earlier posts separately, but thought I would string them all together into one post for ease of reference and to help readers understand how to tell their story for print and broadcast media.  Let’s start with…   

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