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How to use Twitter as a media relations tool

In previous articles we’ve covered traditional ways to get publicity for your church through press releases and email pitches. Now, let’s explore how to use Twitter as a media relations tool.

With 284 million monthly active users on Twitter – including many journalists – it’s a fantastic place to network and build relationships with valuable contacts. Identify and follow local reporters and national religion editors, and engage them in conversation or re-tweet their work over a period of time to develop relationships.

Before you send a pitch, do a simple search on Twitter to supplement your research about a particular journalist. Many link to their work. Check out the topics they cover to ensure you are targeting the correct contact. Sometimes a reporter’s Twitter timeline might skew more personal than professional, but it’s still a quick and easy way to gauge interests and personality and build rapport.

While some journalists still prefer email pitches, increasingly many are looking to social media for story ideas. A reporter’s email inbox is almost always overflowing. By taking advantage of the immediacy of Twitter, you can stand out from the crowd. Some reporters will even solicit media requests. Create a Twitter list just for the media contacts you follow. This enables you to quickly view an edited stream, as opposed to sifting through the hundreds of others you follow, to see if any reporter is searching for material relevant to your ministry.

Remember that you only get 140 characters to sell a story on Twitter. Get those creative juices flowing. It’s helpful to think in terms of headlines. What would make YOU curious enough to learn more? If you’d like help sprucing up your writing skills, click here. In the tweet, add a link to more information, an article or a video. To save space, shorten your links through a service like bit.ly or goo.gl.

If you don’t receive a response to your tweet, don’t give up. Be persistent, but not pushy. Give them about a week and then follow up with an email. If you don’t receive a response after that, it’s probably safe to say that you can move on to another contact.

Always keep Twitter basics and regular media relations etiquette in mind. Due to the public nature of Twitter, steer away from pitching the same story to multiple contacts. If reporters think that a competitor is covering a particular story, they will likely be looking for a different idea. This can also give the impression that you’re spamming your contacts.

Have you ever used Twitter as a media relations tool? Tell us about your experience in the comments.