In a recent survey, the Society of New Communications Research, explored how media and journalism are evolving. In the study, journalists reported using more social media in their reporting including:
In addition, 68% of journalists said that their reliance on social media has increased significantly, and 58% sometimes quote bloggers in stories.
So what does all this mean to the small business owner? It means that effective use of social media is key and critical to being found and written about by the press. But to score these PR points and get reporters to respond to you in the first place, it pays to be proactive by signing up for reporter services such as HARO (Help A Reporter Out) and ProfNet.
At least three times a day, I diligently check my email for queries from these sites showcasing serious reporters looking for qualified sources. I comb through the postings journalists have placed and respond with my best pitch—promoting myself, or one of my clients, as the perfect person to fit the bill.
While services such as ProfNet and HARO can provide you with the opportunity to connect with reporters from top-tier media outlets, the chances of a writer using you as a source increase when you respond in the right ways, including:
• Go straight to the point and give the reporter what they ask for up front. If they request your two best tips, send them. Don't tell the reporter to call you or email you for them.
• Make your bio short and specific. Avoid submitting endless paragraphs on all your fabulous achievements since grade school—reporters don't have the time to sort through it all. To get their attention, write a few short sentences that show the journalist exactly why you would be a good source for their story and what, specifically, makes you an authority on the topic.
• Respond right away. Whenever possible, respond to a posted inquiry within two hours. Yes, I know you're busy, and you have a life, but most reporters get hundreds of responses to a single request and are usually on a tight deadline. After a certain point, they stop looking. So if you want to be seen, be among the first to respond.
While a well-written response to a reporter's query can't guarantee you a call back every time, just keeping these few small things in mind when you do reply can help you score big more often.
Have you used reporter services? What results have you had? What has worked best? We would love to hear your comments.
Karen Leland is a freelance journalist, best-selling author, and president of Sterling Marketing Group where she helps businesses create killer content and negotiate the wired world of today's media landscape-through modern marketing practices, business development, PR, and social media. For questions or comments, please contact her at email@example.com.