Social media is a valuable resource in determining where to take a client’s story. Here’s how to use social to build a targeted media list.
Sharp, targeted media lists are essential for any communications or PR agency. When a client comes to you with a story, be it positive or negative, it’s important to be able to reach out to reliable contacts and secure advantageous cover.
We’ve previously looked at how agencies can use social to manage a client’s reputation and identify emerging trends. In this blog, we’ll look at how social media can help enhance and refine your media lists.

(1) Identifying contacts

Most agencies will already have an established list of reliable contacts. However, it’s important to keep adapting this as the media industry evolves. A reporter’s clout on social media is as much of a consideration as the publication (s)he writes for, and may even reach a wider audience. Bear this in mind when tailoring media lists. For some clients, reports on social may be more important than those in traditional media.
Established journalists are generally already active on social – especially Twitter. However, there may be other potential contacts with a huge social following (such as bloggers) which you haven’t considered. In this context, social signals are a valuable resource. By checking the key authors for certain topics or keywords, you may come across highly influential figures with whom you don’t have an existing relationship.
NewsWhip Spike, for example, has dedicated tabs for Authors and Influencers. These show the writers and publishers earning the most social engagement for different topics and areas. These can be ranked according to the different channels – Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or Pinterest – allowing you to see who’s reaching audiences on multiple channels.
Screenshot from NewsWhip Spike showing key authors for a certain topic

Screenshot of NewsWhip Spike showing the three biggest authors of Election 2016 content for the last 24 hours

Try Spike for free today and see which of your contacts are moving the needle on social.

NewsWhip Analytics goes one further. You can conduct a historical search for engagement on a certain platform, domain, or around different topics. This allows you to easily access stories covered by a contact and how they were received on social. It’s also a useful way of checking if, and how, your client has been covered before.
Screenshot of NewsWhip Analytics showing author shares on FB

Screenshot of NewsWhip Analytics showing Facebook shares per author (April 2016) for motherjones.com

By taking a contact or potential contact’s social presence into account, you can get a feel for how audiences themselves respond to stories in your client’s field. This in turn lets you determine which contacts are most valuable depending on the story, and identify new contacts to reach out to. Tailor lists according to what’s most relevant for different clients so that you can easily reach out when a story breaks.

(2) Joining groups and engaging on social

Social aggregation points are also highly valuable resources. On professional-first channels like LinkedIn, many influential contacts are active within dedicated groups and pages. These allow reporters and professionals to network with peers, discuss major news and industry trends. For agencies, it also gives you an indication of how well a contact is perceived within their field. This is important if the people you want to reach with a client story are other professionals in its industry.
By now, you should have a comprehensive list of contacts from social. Go one further and check for a presence on LinkedIn. If you’re already connected, see if they’re active in any groups. Clients themselves may be active in certain circles, giving you a further idea of which areas to target. By joining and participating in a variety of groups, you can keep your fingers on the pulse of major developments in a client’s field.
It also provides an opportunity for regular interaction. Maintaining relationships on social is, these days, as important as real-life contact. Engage with contacts’ posts frequently, and do so meaningfully. This helps to cement existing relationships and is a good starting point for building new ones.

(3) Reaching out

Now that you’ve built up your contact list and started engaging in groups, how best can you make an approach about a story?
If you have an existing relationship on social, this should be relatively straightforward. You can obtain contact details from LinkedIn and send over a pitch. Many reporters are open to pitches on Twitter, or provide direct contact details in their bio. If you’ve already shown strong awareness of an area through your interactions, they may be more open to the pitch or story.
Be as specific as you can. It’s one thing to know the angle of a story and another to know who to approach.
Some contacts may cover niche or specialised areas which are perfect for a particular story. This is especially true of bloggers, many of whom gain credibility by blogging on specific areas of expertise. By ensuring to target the most relevant and engaged contact, you can boost your chances of getting coverage for the client. A well-timed tweet from the right account may be enough to get the story in front of the audience it needs.
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