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Whether you’re a thought leader who wants to be quoted in Forbes, or a brand looking for a shout-out in a popular consumer review blog, you’ve got to walk a fine line when approaching the media. The good news is, social listening gives you all the insights you need to walk it successfully.

You can’t ask a stranger for a favor

Reporters, bloggers, influencers – they all have the means to spread the good word about your brand, but what reason do they have for doing so if they don’t even know you? Just as you can’t proclaim “Buy this!” to consumers and expect them to care, you can’t pitch to the media blindly.

So what’s your way in? It will differ for every contact and publication – just as each member of your audience is different. Social media listening lets you establish the common ground you need to effectively connect with members of the press.

Where are the members of the media you need to reach?

You can’t do anything until you know where to find the right contacts to help your brand. Here’s the first place social insights help you. Sure, you can Google for a list of bloggers or journalists, but you want to reach the most influential people on the channels that matter to them – and to your brand.

If you’re in the finance industry, you may find your best contacts on Twitter or LinkedIn, for example, whereas entertainment categories might want media contacts active on Tumblr on YouTube. Let the social data tell you where the right voices are – then get to know them.

Journalists are people too

Forming a personal connection is paramount for the same reasons it matters with your customers. Journalists are constantly approached by people wanting something from them – so adding to that noise won’t get you far.

Use your social listening tools to understand what makes them tick, and be sure to analyze sentiment to identify the passions, hobbies, people, publications, etc. they love most.

Engage in conversation around these topics to build a relationship and you’ll be in a much better position to ask them to write about your brand.

You’ll also discover what kind of topics they love writing/talking about based on what they share, which will help you craft the perfect pitch, with an angle they can sink their teeth into.

Don’t forget to differentiate between freelance bloggers and members of the press. The latter are paid to seek and deliver stories by the publications they work for, so they appreciate a worthwhile story idea.

The former can be more like influencers – meaning you have to give something to get something. It can be as easy as offering a hot new product they can review and then keep – but if you uncover something more irresistible in your social listening, feel free to go off book if it gets you the exposure you want.

Making your pitch

With a social friendship established, approaching members of the media is much easier to do – just be sure you know how they prefer to be approached. Their social profile may include details on where to pitch to them, or their website (or publication’s website) will.

Don’t be surprised if they ask for a DM (direct message) versus email, as many media folks prefer it now. Farhad Manjoo of The New York Times (@fmanjoo) is one example of a reporter who solicits DMs right in his Twitter bio.

Follow the protocol, and don’t be afraid to drop a compliment about a piece you know they’re particularly proud of, or relates to the type of piece you’re looking for. Put those social insights to use! When you do, members of the media are happy to amplify your presence to the world.

Remember to return the favor with a social thank you – and keep the relationship alive. You never know when you’ll need them again.

Want a demo of our social media listening tools? Reach out!

Image from Andrew Mager

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