How to use social channels for media attention

This is an article by Sophie Chadwick.
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Sophie Chadwick

No longer are PR and digital SEO two separate worlds. They are merging, paving the way for exciting opportunities for many businesses.

Social media is a powerful tool for any business. When used well, you can harness social platforms to reach new potential customers, gain your publicity for your brand, and make sure the spotlight’s on you, rather than on your competitors. PR is evolving to embrace the rapidly growing digital world.

With these changes, social media has become a crucial channel for the press and marketers alike – astonishingly, nearly a third of the world uses social networks regularly. Understanding how social media can be used for your business is therefore vital. There are plenty of ways to use social channels to your advantage.

Keep an Eye on Hashtags and Trends

The world of social media is, of course, the place where the hashtag was born. It’s also a world full of live coverage on hot topics and trends, with users sparking conversations from around the globe. Getting involved with popular hashtags or creating your own is an easy way to join or start conversations on social media.

Plenty of major brands – and many smaller ones, too – have found huge success by building campaigns around specific hashtags and even by just using the minor, every-day hashtag (for example, #MondayMotivation or #TGIF). Likewise, tapping into trending topics, national events and awareness days can raise the profile of your brand in the eyes of both consumers and the press.

Smoothie-maker Innocent is an example of a brand with a flawless social media presence.

It regularly engages with trending topics and national events that its audience cares about, offering a running commentary.

Interrupting these posts with the odd tongue-in-cheek promotional tweets has helped the brand to grow a solid following and cement its brand tone as friendly and fun.

For the Queen’s 91st birthday, Innocent shared a grand total of 91 things about Her Royal Highness – and even managed to slip in a few references to its drinks.

Pitch to Journalists

Pitching to journalists has always been a fine art.

Over recent years, as the digital world has become such an important part of the evolving media industry, businesses have developed a range of ways to contact the press, rather than just by email or over the telephone.

Social media is becoming a vital part of the pitching strategy, as well as a crucial resource for journalists to research topics, with Twitter leading the way as the go-to channel.

You’ll still need to have a plan in place before pitching to a journalist on social media, though.

Personal brand goes a long way in the business world, so your profile needs to reflect the values of your business before you even think of contacting the press. Finding the right journalist for your pitch is equally important – take a look at their profile to find out their areas of interest and the types of articles they usually write.

Journalists regularly use hashtags such as #JournoRequest and #PRRequest to find leads and story opportunities. It’s worth tracking relevant hashtags to widen your pool of prospective journalists and take advantage of these to spark a conversation. A journalist may be looking for a source of information that is within your area of expertise.

There are three main ways to pitch to a journalist on Twitter:

  • Send a low-pressure tweet complimenting them on a specific story, in a bid to suggest that the topic is within your area of expertise and you could be helpful in the future.
  • Tweet them a short-and-sweet pitch, asking how to get in touch with them to send over more details.
  • If their DM option is enabled, send them a more detailed message there to outline your pitch and ask if they would like more information.

Be careful, though. Because Twitter is a public forum, be sure not to send your pitch to a large number of journalists at the same time.

Be Quick to Engage with Your Customers

Many businesses with a great social media presence have earned this position due to their witty comments and quick responses to customers. This, in turn, can lead to media attention.

A good example of customer service exchanges comes from Sainsbury’s, when a light-hearted battle with a customer helped resolve the issue quickly and earned the supermarket some bonus points for brand trust at the same time.

Social channels have become a popular medium for people to leave customer service queries, offer positive feedback, or complain about problems, so it’s essential for businesses to keep up with these exchanges – and, where possible, to offer stellar responses that go the extra mile.

Promote Your Achievements

Sometimes a little bit of self-promotion goes a long way for your business.

Having an active presence on social media will help you to more smoothly promote your product or service, alongside other less promotional content. If you have newsworthy content, sharing this on your company’s social channels can help it reach a wider audience, including the press.

A company that attends regular events or awards ceremonies can raise its profile by sharing content live from these occasions. Not only does it offer customers a behind-the-scenes look at your brand, but engaging with tailored event hashtags or accounts also opens up your brand to the public.

Lush Cosmetics is an example of a brand that ties together its regular campaigning work and events attendance with its actual products offering. The company even has a separate behind-the-scenes Instagram account.

Utilise the Power of Social Media

Social media is a crucial channel for any business. Taking the time to plan your strategy and keep on top of your channels will help your chances of gaining coverage. Whichever ways you choose to experiment with social media, it is an undeniably powerful platform through which you can earn your business press attention it deserves.

Sophie Chadwick is an account director at Peppermint Soda, an integrated agency in Greater Manchester

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