Thursday, January 14, 2010

8 Tips for Contacting Journalists on Twitter

Reprinted with permission of Carol Tice.  Please see her bio at the bottom of this article.

I'm departing from my usual vein of giving tips to freelance writers today to offer some tips to all the rest of you, who'd like to connect with freelance writers through social media.

It's an interesting experience being a journalist on Twitter. As happy as I am to have many of you as my tweeps, it's clear that not all of you know how to work with the media. So here are my tips for how to connect with journalists on Twitter – and more importanly, how to avoid massively turning journalists off.

1. For G-d's sake, have a Web site. I will not use you as a story source if your Twitter page does not list a Web site. Period. The one-paragraph description on Twitter does not give me enough information about you. A link to your LinkedIn or Facebook page is lame – you don't have your own Web site? – but better than nothing, and might do in a pinch. I am constantly amazed at the number of Twitter users who have no link on their profile.

2. State your location. I know people think they're all Web 2.0 and global by putting their Twitter location as "USA!" or "Everywhere" or listing their GPS coordinates...but I'm trying to verify that you're a real person, and learn where you are, so I know what time of day I should call you.

3. Only respond to sourcing tweets that you fit. When I tweet looking for a tax expert and get a social-media expert, I am not amused. Actually, I am unfollowing you or blocking you if you do it more than once.

4. Please don't send me direct messages basically begging me to write about your book, Web site, or whatever, the minute you start following me. Let me take a look at your site and your tweets, maybe follow you back, and see what you've got to say.

5. Think before you tweet. Imagine a reporter is looking down your home page at your last 10 tweets. Are they going to convince me you are an articulate expert in your field? A string of "Wow, tired, going to bed now!"-type posts – or posts that are just lists of your tweeps' Twitter handles – don't make me want to interview you. Be tweeting about your expertise, as well as sharing and commenting on other people's news in your sector, and cut the fluff.

6. Don't post 20 tweets at once. Maybe this is a personal thing, but I find the blockade strategy obnoxious. When my screen fills up with one person's tweets, I usually skip right over them, and if it happens often, I unfollow the person just to make it stop.

7. DM me an introduction. When I follow experts, I find the best ones usually send me a DM thank-you and say something like "Looking forward to staying in touch and hearing what you have to say!" Friendly, not selling me anything, just starting a conversation. Or they DM and quickly state their expertise in a non-pushy, non-salesy way. Expertise-focused DMs are a great way to begin building relationships with me because the message stays in my DM file and can be retrieved months from now.

8. Get recommended. What I like best as far as source-finding on Twitter is when people I trust can direct me to an expert source. If you can, have someone I follow introduce you.

About Carol: Currently a freelancer for Entrepreneur magazine, Seattle Magazine, Seattle Business Monthly, Yahoo! Hotjobs, and the Seattle Times, among others. She was a staff writer at the Puget Sound Business Journal for more than six years.

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