It feels superfluous to suggest this in 2021, but if you are a public relations professional and you still don’t use Twitter, then you are missing out on a powerful tool that can connect you with reporters and even lead to secured media coverage.
Sure, some say Twitter is in a downward spiral. If you Google “is Twitter dying,” you’ll find a surplus of speculative articles from the past several years pointing to the social platform’s impending demise. The authors of these articles will tell you that Twitter is steadily losing active users, or they surmise a mass exodus of President Trump supporters following his departure from office.
TikTok, the video-sharing app that initially attracted Generation Z, is now exploding in popularity among older generations. Meanwhile, Instagram continues to dominate, boasting the fourth-most users of any mobile app. As the app landscape diversifies, visual content creators will increasingly choose to post and share on alternative platforms to Twitter.
However, I have a different theory. Twitter’s superpower is its lightning-fast capability to share information: writing, ideas, jokes, news, etc. Instead of Twitter’s impending doom, I believe we are witnessing the dust settle as users find their niche content platform.
Whatever the case may be, Twitter is, for the foreseeable future, the most powerful social media tool for public relations professionals. Here’s why:
It’s our job as PR practitioners to follow the news cycle. We’re constantly consuming the news, scouring for opportunities to pitch our clients and prepared to pause in case of major breaking news that will kill our pitches.
Few places on the internet can provide the vast number of second-by-second updates like Twitter. There is an average of 6,000 tweets sent every second. While that may sound overwhelming, the key is to find and follow the users that can help you most in your daily PR efforts.
According to MuckRack in 2019, 83% of journalists use Twitter. It’s easy to understand why; the platform provides reporters instantaneous access to the people. But with a constant stream of tweets and a vast number of accounts to follow, Twitter can be daunting at first.
Start with the obvious: stay up to date and follow all the major news outlets. Continue to narrow your list by following your local and trade-specific media. This is a great way to keep tabs on your contacts, their interests and their stories.
Once you are following the reporters you frequently pitch, explore the accounts that they each follow. Chances are these accounts include story sources, making them valuable resources for you when you need to brainstorm pitch angles and conduct competitor research.
Now comes the important part: check in frequently.
Opportunity around every corner
A digital reporter I frequently work with once thanked me for liking and retweeting their tweets. Maybe that sounds silly at first glance but consider Twitter’s algorithm rewards tweets with more engagement. Likewise, the sheer number of accounts a user could follow makes a local reporter’s voice on Twitter that much quieter.
The point is the opportunities for a PR pro on Twitter are endless. You never know what inspiration you may find or what new contact you may come across.
For example, I stumbled upon a reporter announcing a new series called Sounds of the City at our local NPR affiliate, KJZZ. The series would cover stories driven by sound and with minimal dialogue. I thought it was a great concept, and so I replied to her tweet telling her so. I then followed up with the reporter by email suggesting a few places around town that could work.
Thanks to this exchange, I secured coverage for our client Medieval Times in one of the first Sounds of the City stories.
Twitter isn’t always a shining beacon of inspiration and hope. With about 500 million tweets per day, they can’t all be bangers.
Bean Dads aside, Twitter allows us PR folks to keep a pulse on any topic, all the time. The platform can help us find and connect with journalists, and it presents us with a steady stream of timely opportunities to secure coverage on behalf of our clients. With so many boxes checked, it’s easy to see the value of Twitter.