Should PR Pros Pitch Journalists Through Twitter DM’s?
By: Peter Girard
It was fun, interesting, and insightful to turn the tables on some of Caster’s media friends and ask them a few questions. Last week, Patrick Coffee, a writer for PRNewser, asked the question: Should PR Pitch Journalists on Twitter with Direct Messages? – in response to Twitter’s update which now allows Twitter users to receive direct messages from any of their followers- even if they don’t follow back. Just to be clear, previously the only way to send/receive direct messages on Twitter was if both parties followed each other.
Now, if you’re in the PR world and truly see Twitter as the powerful tool that it is, it’s in your best interest to check out Coffee’s article. Twitter’s ability to connect and engage with journalists in targeted 140 character spurts make it unique, and if used responsibly, can lead to some great PR wins. Coffee’s article is a great jumping off point and offers tips for approaching this delicate question so in this instance, I recommend getting that information from the source.
As a PR pro in training, I’m bias because I am the one crafting the pitches, never receiving them. Yes, I want to explore whether or not PR should pitch journalists via Twitter DM’s not from the PR perspective, but from the journalist perspective. Irony aside, I took to Twitter to ask 5 journalists who get hundreds of emails a day what they thought about the Twitter DM pitch.
Let’s kick things off with Caleb Denison, the A/V editor over at Digital Trends. With 140 characters, actually even less once you consider you have to @ mention the journalist somewhere in the Tweet, you’re not left with a ton of room to get your point across. Boiling your entire pitch down to essentially one sentence is a good exercise that will force you to meticulously choose each word. Some editors may use the DM pitch as a way to green light you sending them additional information via email.
John Sciacca, who writes for Residential Systems as well as his own fantastic blog said he “wouldn’t object to a DM pitch.” He’s not alone either. Dennis Burger, whose work can be seen on sites like TechnologyTell and HDLiving responded to my tweet very similarly.
One of the keywords here is “relevant”. With the large volume of journalists on Twitter, make sure you take the time to accurately identify the best one for your pitch. Journalists/editors are busy people too, a DM pitch on a subject completely irrelevant to what they cover is a good way to get yourself blacklisted as someone to ignore. For every journalist that’s cool with receiving a pitch through Twitter DM, there are of course going to be a few who’d prefer you reach out through different means.
Geoff Morrison, who writes for C|NET, as well as Forbes, Sound+Vision, and TheWireCutter and he makes a serious point. While at first glance you might think he’s being cold, you’d be wrong, it all circles back to media research. Geoff’s twitter profile links directly to his website, where he has a ‘contact me’ submission form. Many journalists get hundreds of emails a day and have a system in place. To some, a pitch going to their inbox on Twitter is just one more place they have to monitor and so if you’ve done your research on your target writer, it’s always best to pitch them the way they prefer to receive information.
I’m with Grant 100% on this. Grant Clauser is the Technology Editor of Electronic House. There’s really no right or wrong on this subject just, as I’ve demonstrated, journalist preference. Some journalists will welcome a DM pitch because it forces you to be relevant, short, sweet and to the point. Other journalists prefer you contact them via email and as a PR professional, it’s your job to respect that. My own personal thoughts on the subject align most closely with Grant’s response. To be a PR PRO, pitching journalists, writers, editors, etc. on Twitter should be one tool at your disposal, but not make up your entire toolbox.
Have your own thoughts on the subject? Want to be part of the conversation? I’d love to hear what you have to say! Feel free to reach out to me via Twitter, and yes, I updated my settings to accept DM’s from anyone for anyone who’d like to try that new feature out.