How Social Media Has Changed Public Relations: 27 Tips to Build Reporter Relationships and Raise Brand Awareness

Written by Paige Dawson

Last week I had the honor of serving as the public relations and marketing agency voice on a panel discussion titled: How Social Media Has Changed Public Relations. The event, hosted by Social Media Breakfast Dallas, included two fabulous local journalists Dom Difurio of The Dallas Morning News and Eline de Bruijn of NBC DFW on the panel with me.

As part of the event, I created a tip worksheet that addressed action items and considerations for before, during and after securing media coverage—all with a bent toward the social media channels along the way. (NOTE: I shamelessly have updated this tip sheet based on the insights Dom and Eline shared at the event…a seasoned PR pro stays attune for new ideas.)

In the interest of brevity, I’ll share the key highlights below in each phase and encourage you to download the full 27 tips as you begin or refine your strategy and execution. (And for those jaded by tip sheets that require your info in return for content…rejoice. This tip sheet is gate-free and offered to help us all improve in the industry.) So feel free to download now.

Before: Do Your Homework

You only get one reputation, so ensure you know the space before you act. To “be in the conversation” as we say, you really need to know what the conversation is. The first step is to identify what media outlets reach your target audience and then watching to see what they cover, who actually covers this topic and where you might be able to join in the conversation as a thought leader or expert.

Our tip sheet includes obvious suggestions to follow, like, share and comment on relevant stories. And, if you are astute to see what reporters are active, social-media junkies (like us) and those that are more old school where phone or email are best.

During: Create a Game Plan

The advent of the internet and social media has forever changed the media game. Most individuals now get all their news online only, with many using social media as the primary channel so media outlets think online first.

Content is available (and expected to be refreshed) 24/7/365 and at the same time media outlets have fewer on-staff writers and editors, so the need to “feed the beast” with fresh, relevant, timely content is more present today than ever before.

Media outlets need resources every day…honestly, for some, every hour, but they also want those sources to be Relevant, Interesting and Timely.

The opportunity to secure coverage for your organization varies greatly from the “breaking new” versus “evergreen” formats. In both cases, reporters will evaluate:

  1. Do you have the credibility in that topic area to offer value?
  2. Do you have something interesting to say about the topic?
  3. Can you offer up any visuals (i.e. photos, video, etc.) to make the story more appealing to the audience?

Time is of the essence for breaking-news formats and once the reporter has covered a story, it’s old news so be prepared for quick response. For example,

  • A craft brewery could reply to coverage/offer to be a source on the recent Beer-To-Go legislation that just passed the Texas legislature.
  • A lawyer can comment on recent law enforcement items and court cases.
  • A staffing firm, HR person, economist could comment on the local impact for company relocation, layoffs, unemployment numbers.
  • A consumer product company could look at ties for seasonal stories for gift guides, holidays, trends.

During: Make the Ask

Once you know what you can talk about, it’s time to understand HOW to reach the reporter or editor successfully. Our tip sheet provides eight points focused on how to execute the mechanics of the ask and the art of the follow-up.

This section is really the make or break point for if you can gain the interest of the reporter and begin a conversation. And, this is where many folks fall flat or get lost in the sea of pitches a reporter receives daily.

The savvy marketer or publicist knows the drill for:

  • How to reach out: email over phone…and for those reporters active on social media—even DMs are effective;
  • What to say: be concise, interesting and mention any supporting visuals;
  • When to reach out: early in the morning and before 9am as they are planning their day,

The download goes into more specifics for each aspect of this stage.

After: Share the Love

Just like with your social media engagement and metric goals for your organization, media outlets and reporters also measure their engagement. They actively watch what topics secured the most interest and engagement and use as a guide for evaluating future stories.

And, they also are keen on engagement and sharing as so much of their revenue models have moved to online advertising formats. Be a good partner to share the love. Our tip sheet provides a handful of action items to take post coverage to leverage the thought leadership for your company’s success and to help out those media outlets to increase their engagement as well.

Oh, and please do remember to thank the reporter for their interest, time and working with you.

Ready to get started? Download the 27 tips for working with reporters now.

If you need more help along the way, please reach out. We’d love to chat about your organization and how to raise brand awareness via publicity.

About Paige Dawson

With expertise in marketing, business strategy and public relations, as well as ‘in the trenches’ experience as a business owner, Paige Dawson brings a unique blend of talent to clients. As president and founder of MPD Ventures Company, Paige works with executives and entrepreneurs throughout the country to develop key messages, marketing strategies and measurable campaigns, driven by client business goals. She has extensive experience providing counsel for professional service firms, technology companies, associations and nonprofits.