Organizations and Stakeholders

Using social media to build relationships with journalists

At my internship at Frederick County Government in Maryland, one of the valuable lessons my supervisor stressed to me was about media relations. She introduced me to the local reporter that covers the county government news whom she had been working with for some time.

As corporate communicators, journalists are key stakeholders. Though some people argue newspapers and other traditional news media are becoming a thing of the past, reporting news itself is in absolutely no danger. Journalists are not going away, they are just writing different media.

We corporate communicators are still counting on pitching journalists to share information about our company. Now, we can use online resources, such as social media, to build a relationship with journalists.  We have the opportunity to give them valuable material to make it more likely that they will talk about our organization in their stories, online or otherwise.

In a previous post, News organizations using social media, I discussed how news organizations are using social media to report the news. If they’re using social media, we can make it easier for them by giving them material that is easier to work with.

What do journalists want?

Part of building relationships with journalists is consistently giving them credible information they can use. Online journalists want rich content and multimedia to post on their news and social media sites. Here is a list of things we can pass along for a journalist to use:

Social Media Release Template.

Social Media Release Template. Shift Communications.

  • Photos
  • Graphics
  • Quotes
  • Video
  • RSS feed
  • Links
  • E-mails of experts in the company

Remember, we want to make the journalist’s job of compiling information as easy as possible to make it more likely that they will talk about our organization.

How can we send this information to the journalist?

We can use our own company’s website and social media sites to post valuable content and make it easily searchable for journalists to access. Our sites can include online news rooms where we link to past releases and multimedia about our company. For individual story ideas, we can send the media a social media news release that is almost exactly like traditional news releases but includes multimedia such as b-roll, audio, and images pertaining to the story. We can use to post the social media releases such as online wire services pitchengine. We can also use our organization’s social media to pitch bloggers. Journalists can scan our Twitter page with links to our news and easily pick up story ideas.

Building a relationship with a journalist is key

In PR and corporate communication, the most valuable element of our work is being human. Our communication is still based on personal contact. Being conversational, though still professional, will aid our credibility. Journalist will know they can come to you for quality, relevant information.

For more tips on pitching to journalists online and building relationships, check out Christine Kent’s blog post “Eight Ways to befriend Journalists Via E-mail.”


Trackbacks & Pingbacks


  1. I agree with your comment on how we refer to online social media to build relationships with customers now. We use facebook, twitter, and blogs to receive feedback on what a company is doing wrong or right. Companies are actually enforcing this online relationship with their customer to promote loyalty and to prove they will try to help them with whatever problem they are having.
    Building a strong relationship with journalists is also important so they ask your for your company’s opinion if your company were to ever get into a problem. A journalist would consider getting both ends of the story.

    | Reply Posted 8 years, 10 months ago
    • You’re right, hopefully, if you help a journalist with a story, even if you have nothing to do with it, they will help you out later.

      | Reply Posted 8 years, 9 months ago
  2. * Kristin Dyer says:

    It is cool to see how you experienced how important it is to build relationships with journalists in PR. This class is actually my first real corporate communications class because I am a journalism concentration. I was very interested with the readings that we completed for class because in all of my journalism classes I have taken never once was anything mentioned about relationships with PR people. I was actually kind of surprised to hear about how much of our media does not come from the journalist and actually from PR people. I wish that in my writing classes they would have taught us how to seek out and build relationships with PR people like we are learning in this class, it would have been very helpful!

    | Reply Posted 8 years, 9 months ago
    • Thanks for your comment, Kristin. At least you’re learning about it in this class… better late than never. I’m glad you’re open to getting to see both sides — PR and Journalism. I’m sure it will make you more understandable later when you begin to receive thousands of e-mail pitches from us PR people!

      | Reply Posted 8 years, 9 months ago
  3. Social media provide organizations and corporations the perfect medium to build relationships with journalists. So many journalists do their research for their stories online now, so it’s important for organizations to recognize the importance of the Internet. If they want their news covered, often times traditional means of communication are not enough… journalists are looking for more. Standards are rising for PR practitioners. You can’t just throw a party and expect everyone to love you anymore. You have to use as many resources as possible to get your message out and to engage in dialogue with important constituents (like journalists). I thought your study was relevant and helpful. Thanks for making the connection from class!

    | Reply Posted 8 years, 9 months ago
    • Yesterday, at the alumni School of Media Arts and Design event, I attended the journalism panel discussion and I asked them how we can get their attention in general. Right away, one of the panelists said “NO E-MAILS!” I’m sure this is not the viewpoint of every journalist, as we have heard from others. However, you are right, we are going to have to use social media as one more way to build the relationship, especially if they are starting to ignore their e-mails!

      | Reply Posted 8 years, 9 months ago
  4. * Jillian Whalen says:

    The only way really to get in contact with future employers and companies is to have an online presence. In my SMAD 470 class, one of the requirements was to create a Linkedin account. I already had one but, it was great to see that our professors are realizing this and enforcing us to become involved. With sites like Twitter and Facebook, you can follow or be a fan of the company that you are looking at for employment. After SMAD day, I immediately went to Twitter and followed two of the people that I talked to. It’s just another connection that will hopefully help in the future.

    | Reply Posted 8 years, 9 months ago

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