Six tips to using social media for building better relations with your local media

Social media is all the rave…blah blah blah blah.  It’s all true, of course, but here’s the thing: television, radio and newspapers are still the 1st, 3rd and 4th source of where Americans get their news.  While computers and cell phones/tablets are 2nd, 5th and 6th, much of that news also comes from traditional sources like newspaper and television stories.  In other words, “old” media cannot be ignored, and you’d be a fool to try.

A comprehensive media strategy requires the use of earned and social media. You can and should use social media to strengthen relations with local reporters and get better press.  Here are some ways to do it:

1) Find your local reporters and connect with them on social media: Most elected officials have their own media lists – check out that list, find the reporters on them, and search those reporters out on Facebook or Twitter.  Keep in mind, from that point forward, anything you say on social media is fair game for reporting, but that’s the case anyway if you are an elected official.  Remember this rule of thumb: Never post anything on social media that you don’t want seen on the front page of your local paper.

2) Share and retweet their content: Reporters are just like anyone else – they like it when people share their stories and content on social media. If they post an interesting news story that is relevant for your friends and followers, share it.  That’s good social media use and good for media relations.

3) Post press releases after sending them to reporters: There is nothing wrong with using social media to post press releases, as long as you customize the content (don’t just make a post, but write an intro explaining what you are posting and why) and as long as that’s not your only use of social media. However, what you never want to do is post a press release to the public before sending it to reporters. A reporter’s job depends on them getting information to the public; as such, it’s reasonable that they have an expectation that they receive press releases before, or at least at the same time, as the general public. Their job depends on it, and you don’t want to unnecessarily tick a reporter off!

4) Send out your Facebook statuses, when appropriate: Every now and then, something happens in the news that isn’t quite important enough to warrant a press release, but does deserve a Facebook status update.  So, if you have a few close reporters who have quoted you in the past, send them your status, and it may get picked up for an article.

5) Don’t use social media to complain about local media: There are about 100 reasons for this, but mainly that it looks juvenile.  If you have a legitimate issue with your local reporter, take it up with them first, and if you want to correct something in a story via social media, explain the facts without making judgmental statements about the reporter.

6) Post your take on big stories: If there is a state-wide or national story, comment on it, and if you are friends with local reporters, they may pick up your statement and ask for your opinion.  To that end, however: make sure that you are willing to discuss and defend anything you talk about on social media, because if a reporter sees it, they may ask you about it.

What did I miss? Any other tips you want to add? Let us know in the comments!

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