While it's important to use social media to create a newsworthy persona online in the hopes that professional journalists will take an interest in what you have to say, sometimes you just have to go fishing for yourself.
Imagine you have a great story idea. It would be great positioning for you and your firm if you were interviewed by a professional journalist writing for a credible third-party media outlet — and you could help the readers, too, by bringing this good information to light.
You have a sneaking suspicion that Mr. Big Shot Writer would be interested in the subject. After reading his column for years you are fairly certain that this would be a good fit for the publication's readers, it fits right in with his "beat" and he has not recently written anything remotely close to this topic.
Now is the time to suggest your idea, but what's the best way to connect? Savvy advisors can use social media to find and connect with journalists. Here's what you do:
1. JOIN AND ELEVATE THE CONVERSATION ON TWITTER
While you could go to the publication's website and find the journalist's email address, a quick web search shows that the journalist has a Twitter presence and a LinkedIn profile.
You log on to Twitter and read the past 10-12 tweets posted by this journalist; you immediately "follow" this journalist on Twitter and retweet something he's posted -- in this case it's a short comment with a link to something he recently wrote for a major media outlet. You skim a bit more and find another tweet to "favorite."
Over the next week or so, you take a special interest in watching for relevant tweets. Using the journalist's Twitter handle, you Tweet something that elevates the conversation and positions you as a helpful expert. You use a well-placed hashtag or two every now and then. You look at who this journalist follows on Twitter and see that some of them are also journalists and industry experts, many of whom you did not know before, some of whom you've been meaning to follow for a while.
In short order, you've built a Twitter list of industry influentials and journalists to make it easier to follow pools of conversation (and if the journalists and others you put on the list are paying attention, they will see you have added them to a list, so be sure to name it something complimentary).
You resist the urge to use the journalist's handle just to look cool. You refrain from blatantly trying to "butter him up" so that he'll pay attention to you and what you might be tweeting about in your own social sphere. But because you have built a newsworthy presence online, which entails using more than just Twitter of course, the journalist does finally notice you and follows you back.
One day you send a direct message to the journalist and, yes in 140 characters or less, you pitch your big idea. The journalist "DM's" you back and asks you to send a more detailed overview via email. Because the journalist has invited you to send the email, he watches for it to arrive in his email box, glossing over the many other pitches he receives everyday via email from others who have not taken the time to really understand or take an interest in his work.
One day, the phone rings and you have a great conversation. You become a regular resource for this particular journalist.
2. CREATE IN-PERSON CONNECTIONS ON LINKEDIN
As a result of your Twitter presence and overall media prowess, you earn more followers. Some of them are journalists who've taken an interest in what you've said in Mr. Big Shot Writer's column for the major media outlet.
You are going to San Francisco soon and know that one of these journalists lives in the Bay Area. You do some Internet searching, find the most relevant articles pertaining to the San Francisco journalist and her key areas of interest. You read these so that you can ponder the best way to have a meaningful discussion with this syndicated writer should she like your suggestion that you meet for coffee while you are in town.
Because you have built a robust network over time, you quickly find that one of your first-level connections on LinkedIn is also connected to Ms. Syndicated Writer. You share a little bit about your goals and idea with your LinkedIn connection and ask that he introduce you to the journalist.
The next day, you log on to LinkedIn and the journalist has accepted your request to connect. You begin a dialogue and she agrees that a conversation at the local coffee shop makes sense. You start looking at her connections, and some of your other connections' connections, and find that there are several other journalists worth pursuing.
You reach out personally to each one, either through your connections or directly if that feels best to you. You use the advanced LinkedIn search features to find other journalists in and around San Francisco; you replicate the process by keeping things relevant, not "spammy" because everyone hates that. You follow The Golden Rule and think twice before hitting "send."
You keep adding good, relevant content to your professional profile page and your company LinkedIn page in the form of "status updates." You dust off and improve your profile—after all, it is time for spring cleaning and a fresh gleam is always good.
And when you leave San Francisco? You've had three good conversations with journalists who liked what you had to say and will be working with you on future stories.