Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Socializing 101—Making Connections with 140 Characters or Less

One thing that I have learned throughout my career is the power of social media. The informal, conversational atmosphere of social media platforms somehow brings people’s guards down and creates a community atmosphere. Twitter, in particular, has become one of my most valuable PR tools. When you’re trying to get you client’s news noticed in a sea of other PR people, you have to stand out. It’s really that simple.

This is where learning the art of 140 characters or less comes in. Here are my suggestions for making connections with key press and analysts to ensure that next time your email doesn’t land in the trash:
  • Do your research: Make sure that you are following all of the relevant press and analysts for your client’s industry. Many times you can find out what they cover based on their bio and the type of content that they tweet. I would also suggest seeing who these people follow. It’s a good way to discover new relevant press, analysts and publications that you may not have found otherwise.
  • Engage & interact: This may feel a bit uncomfortable because you don’t know many of these people yet, but as I mentioned, Twitter is a very informal community and you can get away with things that you normally wouldn’t in the real world. For instance, retweet stories, reports or any other content that they may post that you find interesting or relevant to what your client does. If you find a good story, share it on your Twitter and tag the reporter that wrote it in a complimentary tweet. Everyone loves compliments. Even by strangers on the Internet. Reply to a tweet or join in on a discussion that you find of particular interest. While you typically wouldn’t interject into a conversation that didn’t involve you in real life, it’s perfectly acceptable and welcomed in the Twittersphere.
  • Get personal: Many times press and analysts use their Twitter accounts to share both personal and professional news and updates. Don’t be afraid to retweet something that you find funny or strike up a conversation about something that you both enjoy whether it be hobbies, television shows, music or anything else. Remember, the point is to stand out and what stands out more than bonding over a love of spinning or Game of Thrones (just an example).
  • Call to action: Sometimes you will have an immediate need for your Twitter interactions like pitching a story idea or getting time on their calendar to schedule a briefing at a conference. In these times, it’s important that you bring your interactions full circle. Establishing these relationships won’t benefit your client if you don’t seal the deal. Most of the time, conversation will start on Twitter and then migrate to email where the details and logistics are hashed out. In other cases, you may find that there is not an immediate action to take. Perhaps it turns out that the reporter wasn’t relevant or you were simply relationship building. That is fine. It’s important to continue to nurture and maintain these relationships as you would a real-world friendship. Nobody likes the friend that only texts when summer rolls around because you have a beach house, right? The more you continue to invest in these connections, the more likely you are to get a response when you do have a client that would be of interest.
So you’ll see, in PR there is true value in cultivating professional relationships on a platform that is instant, conversational and effective. If you consistently implement these tips into your PR practices, not only will your emails see a lot less trash and a lot more replies, but you’ll undoubtedly see you Twitter popularity skyrocket. Double win.

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