I recently attended a meeting of the Georgia Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA). It featured local broadcast reporters from the top four affiliate stations and focused on how these reporters use social media to source and cover stories.
Many discussed how today there is increasing pressure to use social media to find stories, post stories once they’re completed, and gauge consumer reaction. There’s also a bit of a beauty contest among networks to compete for social followers and even among the panelists there was some friendly ribbing.
Following the meeting and based on my learnings, I pitched a story via Twitter to a couple of the reporters I met. Not only did I get a placement with the Fox affiliate, but added four followers to my list. Here are some of the tips I picked up at the meeting:
1. Email is out!
All of the broadcast panelists said, “Don’t pitch us via email.” Why? Because, like all of us, they are inundated with emails (@JulieWolfe said she received 9,000 emails a day or some crazy number like that). Unless they see an amazing subject that is newsworthy, they have no time to read through them. However, if you pitch a story via Twitter, the reporter may ask to follow up via email.
2. Phones are out!
The general consensus was don’t bother calling. Most said they use the phone to screen calls and don’t pick up any more.
3. Tweeting is in!
Not only is it better to pitch via Twitter but a lot of times you can see what types of stories reporters are covering because they are reporting on them via Twitter. @PaulFromFox5, who is a feature reporter and also covers weather, likes stories about day trips you can take from Atlanta.
@SoniaMoghe talked about how she uses Twitter to find stories about average people with unusual things happening to them. When she is given a story and has to find “characters” that are affected by whatever is going on — whether it is an economy story or new school regulation — she will search that information via Twitter to find her local sources.
Reporters are now being judged on the number of followers that they have accumulated. Newsrooms are actually scrutinizing that to make sure that their reporters are active on social media. They are doing this not only within the newsroom but with other networks.
Any time there is a new social application, they are trained in the newsrooms on how to use it. One mentioned that Vine was the newest application.
4. Don’t forget Facebook!
@JulieWolfe is covering a very controversial trial right now. She says she is amazed at the feedback she is getting through conversations on Facebook. She suggests not posting on her wall, but sending her a direct message.
The gist of the conference was that social media is a powerful tool that is being used by reporters to find stories and can be used by PR professionals to pitch clients.
How are YOU using social media to generate awareness for your clients?