Public Relations is all about making meaningful connections and building lasting relationships with the media. While the value of human-to-human contact should never be underestimated, the very nature of how we communicate is changing. People email, they text and they tweet. Good PR professionals are using these mediums to send their client’s messages to the media, great PR pros are using them to build relationships. Here are some tips from Max Borges Agency’s award winning technology PR + Social Media team on how to use social media to start a conversation and build a lasting relationship with the media.

Find Your Media Online

The simplest way to find a reporter on social media is to read their content online. Nine times out of ten, you will find their social media information included with the article. You can also try simply searching the web for their name + “Twitter.”If you don’t know exactly who you’re looking for, sites like PressPass and Muck Rack can help you find journalists on Twitter through organizing them by beat, media outlet, and region.

Listen First, Act Later

Once you’ve identified your media targets, start following them on Twitter and listen to what they’re saying. Did they say something funny or interesting? Retweet or favorite their Tweet. This acts as a digital nod to show you’re listening and engaged. You can create private Twitter lists for each publication, beat or industry you follow for simplified monitoring and engagement. Monitoring these lists is important to know what the media is covering as well as learn personal details about your target media which will make for stronger relationships down the line. Monitoring media on twitter is also a great source for fielding queries as many reporters post calls for products and pitches on twitter.

Start a Conversation

Would you kick-off a media lunch with a pitch? Chances are you’d say hello first. Resist the urge to pitch a reporter on social media right away and let your first interactions be non-promotional. It’s also important to consider that not all journalists like being pitched on Twitter, so be sure to ask. For example, try tweeting, “Hi @name, loved your story on new adventure gear! I work w/ @company + have something you might like, what’s the best way 2 connect w/you?” They will appreciate that you took the time to ask and will be on the lookout for your pitch. If they give you the green light, following up emails and phone calls via Twitter is a great way to prompt media to your pitch.

The Takeaway

Once you’ve made the connection, maintain the relationship and continue to communicate on a regular basis—even if you don’t have a story. Try to take a genuine interest in their updates and if their Tweet of a funny cat video makes you LOL, let them know! Take the basic principles of offline communication and transfer them online for successful media relationships in the digital age.

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