This was the title of my 10 minute slot at last week's B2Camp event at the Working Buildings expo at Olympia.
It won't surprise many of you to know that we are using social media tools, particularly Twitter, as part of our PR and media relations work for clients as well as building awareness of the consultancy itself.
So I thought it might be of interest to post my slides here, with a commentary (as the slides themselves won't give you the detail of what was discussed). You can also see copies of the other presentations on the B2Camp ning site.
In a later post, I will also let you have a list of our top 10 journalists that we think you should follow if you're interested in architecture, construction, building, engineering and sustainability in the built environment.
My first point was that Twitter can be seen as a huge, packed party. Full of people you probably don't know, but who are friendly, happy to chat and will happily introduce you to others you'd like to meet. The noise is almost deafening and like all good parties, a lot of tripe is being spoken...
But in this party you will find lots of journalists, many of whom are interested in what you're interested in.
Research due to be launched in the States next month suggests that 70% of US journalists use social media networks to help them with their reporting, up from 41% last year. About half of all the respondents said they use Twitter. (Read the full report on the Journalistics blog here).
Although the figures are not so high in the UK yet (see this interesting research on Twitter use in UK national newspapers), the trend seems to be towards greater use of Twitter by the media when they want to find sources, research stories and post feature requests.
In fact, at first glance Twitter seems to be a party with an A-list of media celebrities in attendance: the editors of Building magazine, The Architect's Journal, Building Design, New Civil Engineer and Construction News... they're all here!
Of course, not all these journalists and editors use Twitter to its full extent. Some don't even like it.
But thanks to those that do, there's an interesting opportunity opening up which allows companies, their PR professionals and journalists to share information, help each other and build closer working relationships.
How it works
Here's a quick snapshot of how it can work at its simplest level.
First, you need to know where to find journalists on Twitter.
There are several generic directories which might be of use:
There are also some useful wikis collecting information on the media on Twitter:
But as you can see above, our main recommendations are to check out media websites, delve into the list of people a few journalists are following (you can bet they're following other reporters too), and also your PR company's contacts.
My proposal to the B2Campers was that we should set up our own wiki for media contacts relevant to our sector. (Want to help? Please contact me or Paul Wilkinson).
You should choose a few relevant journalists to follow on Twitter, but don't necessaily expect them to follow you back straight away. You will need need to prove your worth as a source first - and that may be best done offline in the first instance. (More about that in a later blog post).
Listening in on a journalist's Twitter feed can tell you much more about what they're interested in, and the things they like/dislike. You can also spot any requests for information - responding to these opportunities has created coverage for our clients in the Times newspaper and many online channels in the last month alone.
Keep an eye out too for the hashtag #journorequest - this is increasingly used by freelance journalists to tag tweets when they're looking for help and information.
If there are journalists following you on Twitter, you may find it useful to post updates with links direct to your press releases (created as pages on your website, full of links to useful information, images etc. rather than a downloaded PDF - see some examples above). There are different ways to do this, but my best advice is to make the tweet itself interesting rather than posting an update that says "Just uploaded an interesting press release http://blahblah". Do not bombard the journalists with messages telling them to click on your stories!
Because: HERE'S THE WORD OF WARNING!
A quick search on the hashtag #PRFAIL reveals a litany of complaints from beleaguered journalists who have received poor service from companies and their PR representatives. Any bad practice will be broadcast on Twitter, you can count on it.
Our advice? Be professional, know what you're doing, and follow the CIPR guidelines on social media.
So in conclusion...
My final thoughts at the Olympia event are summed up in these last two slides.
This one was a tweet I stumbled upon from @Ahaley, someone I don't know or follow, but someone who has summed it all up perfectly:
Yep, that's it in a 140-character nutshell.
It doesn't matter what media you are using, the usual rules of PR still apply - PR is not about broadcasting your news at anyone in the near vicinity, it's all about relationships.
And good, strong, loving relationships are built upon some age-old rules...
I think those bullet points are probably pretty self-explanatory, but if you have any questions please just ask!
There was an interesting discussion following my presentation into the whole issue of how we can evaluate 'social media coverage' (if there is such a thing) in our PR evaluation for clients. I do believe that it should be included as evidence of the value we can add, but the evaluation tools available today are pretty poor.
Although, as I pointed out last week, the whole Web 2.0 environment is changing and developing in sophistication so fast... maybe I shall have lots to present on at the next B2Camp.