Leveraging Twitter for Public Relations

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We know that public relations is an essential part of running a business. It gives you the reach you need to take your business further. But public relations (or PR) is more than just reaching out to journalists and asking them to cover you in their latest article. So much of public relations is about making genuine friendships with leaders in the publishing and media industry and working with them to tell your story in the best possible way. So what’s Twitter and social media got to do with PR? We invited PR consultant and writer Michelle Garrett to talk about how brands can use Twitter for PR. Here’s a summary of our chat.

Guest: Michelle Garrett
Topic: Leveraging Twitter for Public Relations
Format: Eight questions directed at the guest. Everyone’s welcome to share.

The #TwitterSmarter chat is sponsored by Ahrefs.

Q1: What’s the connection between PR and social media?

They’re both fairly closely related. As our guest explained, social media is both a great boon and sometimes a challenge for PR professionals. In many ways, social media can help brands widen their reach and amplify their messages.

That said, it can also go the other way. During a crisis, things can escalate on social media really quickly and PR professionals often don’t have the time to prepare, react, and respond accordingly.

Our friend from Clover Media Consulting emphasized Michelle’s point. Social media can open up doors that traditional public relations won’t. However, it’s also important to know and understand the nuances of each social media platform.

Q2: What are some ways to use Twitter to widen your PR reach?

PR professionals can use social media to reach audiences they haven’t reached yet. What’s more, it’s also a great way to research journalists and make valuable connections.

Julia from NOW Marketing Group also spoke about the importance of participating in conversations and joining in chats that are relevant to your brand and industry. That’s a great way to build friendships and broaden your network.

Q3: Share some tips for finding PR opportunities on Twitter.

If you follow journalists in your industry, you’ll realize that they tweet out asking for sources for stories they’re working on. As our guest suggested, you can also follow hashtags like #JournoRequest.

Twitter is also an excellent way to find out trending topics and stories. If you notice a story that’s relevant to your brand or industry, you can even pitch your story.

Madalyn also suggested following the #PRRequest hashtag. Furthermore, she recommended creating a Twitter list of popular journalists or other profiles who cover stories relevant to you. That way, you can easily keep up with their tweets and find new and upcoming trends quickly.

Q4: Can you plan a PR strategy without an active social media presence?

Technically, you can. But our guest advised against it. When a journalist plans to cover you in a piece, the first thing they’ll do is look you up on social media. If you don’t have a solid presence online, they won’t be as keen to feature you.

Kaitlyn, who’s a journalist and freelance writer, confirmed Michelle’s point. She added that it’s also important for a journalist to be able to get in touch with a brand on social media.

An active social media presence is invaluable because it helps establish yourself as a thought leader in the industry.

Q5: How does your social media strategy (or a lack thereof) impact your PR efforts?

If you haven’t been posting anything on social media for a while, it’ll seem as if there are no PR activities happening for the brand.

But if you’re consistently posting about what’s happening with the brand and your PR activities, you will seem far more lucrative for a journalist. They might look at the pitch you’ve given them and realize that your messages align and that you’re actively pursuing your goals.

As Doug and Madalyn pointed out, when you have a strong social media strategy and a community to support you, your PR efforts will get more reach.

Q6: What do journalists look for in a brand’s social media presence?

Journalists usually look for what a brand shares on social media, but also how frequently they post. As our guest quoted a journalist, an unconvincing social media activity makes the brand seem inconsistent and uninterested.

Additionally, journalists want to see a brand’s social media activities because they want to tag the brand on socials knowing that they’re active enough to engage with that mention. No journalist would want to tag a brand and initiate a conversation on social media if the brand seems unlikely to respond and drive the conversation further.

And of course, journalists want to see that the brand is a real expert in the field, as Christine pointed out. They want to see credibility, expertise, and networking. They want reassurance that the brand won’t let them down.

Q7: From a PR perspective, is it important to have a face behind a brand’s social media?

This is a subjective question. For some brands, yes, it makes sense to have a face behind the profile. But for some others, it doesn’t make much of a difference.

For example, consider the CEO of a large company. They may not want to be involved heavily on Twitter, but doing so will help boost the brand itself. Like Elon Musk and Tesla—except, it’ll work even if your brand isn’t as shiny as Elon’s.

Lance raised some good questions as well, especially if you’re considering hiring someone to represent your brand. Having a friendly, trustworthy, and sometimes influential personality as the face of the brand can increase credibility and liveability. However, it’s important to ask yourself if that person resonates with the brand. People want to connect with an authentic person—if the face of your brand isn’t a good match for the brand’s philosophies, it may do more harm than good.

Q8: What’s the best social media channel for PR activities?

Twitter, no doubt about that. It’s where every journalist lives. Even if they aren’t as obvious about it, they’re just around the corner, listening, observing, and scouring for stories.

Well folks, that’s all from me this week. Thanks a lot for reading through and for more great insights from our chat with Michelle, have a look at this Twitter thread. If you think this summary is pretty good, you’ll love the real-time chat. Join us every Thursday at 1pm ET on #TwitterSmarter. We also hang out on Twitter Spaces at 5pm ET to continue our chat. Catch you there!

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About me, Narmadhaa:

I write all the things—marketing stuff for the bills; haiku and short stories for the soul. A social media enthusiast, I hang out with the #TwitterSmarter chat crew, and am always happy to take on writing gigs.

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