Here are some dos and don’ts to help you boil your best elevator pitch down to an escalator pitch that’s 140 characters — or fewer.
1. Do try to form a relationship
Twitter facilitates communication with people with whom you otherwise wouldn’t have contact on a daily basis. Take advantage of the transparency and use Twitter to befriend your favorite and most relevant journalists.
How to find journalists on Twitter
Surf the Internet. Many Web sites list their reporters’ Twitter handles.
MuckRack.com. This site aggregates tweets from journalists
WeFollow.com. Twitterers can put themselves in a category.
MediaOnTwitter.com. A database of journalists, their Twitter names, and their contact information.
Remember, Twitter is not an excuse to ditch best practices. As with offline pitching, know whom you’re pitching, advises Geoff Livingston, CEO of Livingston Communications.
“Before e-mail, people used to build strong relationships with journalists,” he says. “The same thing applies with Twitter; you definitely want to foster relationships and then pitch where appropriate. It’s not an opportunity to send out your press release every week.”
Richard Laermer, co-founder of the Bad Pitch Blog and CEO of RLM PR, suggests the following format: “I saw your article (link to a story they did), and it reminded me that we’re taking it to another level. Here’s the release: (another link).”
“The best way to tweet somebody is to talk about them,” he says. “‘I saw this, it reminded me of what we were doing, check this link out.’ It shows you did your homework.”
At the very least, research a few articles the journalist has written recently and tweet them only if the topics of those articles are relevant to your pitch.
“Cold tweeting isn’t the same as cold calling,” Laermer says. “With cold calling, you’re generally getting voicemail; with cold tweeting, most people pay attention to who’s tweeting them, because it’s new.”