Don’t get me wrong, social media is a powerful way to connect with people online, and it’s already changing the way public relations pros are approaching their jobs. But nothing beats good ole face-to-face communication.
About a week ago, we visited with the staff of the Baltimore Business Journal during a tweetup at their new downtown Baltimore offices. Next it was off to Chef Geoff’s restaurant in Virginia to meet up with folks at the Washington Business Journal (that’s WBJ Editor Douglas Fruehling, right, in the corner introducing the editorial staff). In both cases, we got to hear first-hand what’s on the minds of the editors and reporters, enabling us to make better decisions as to where a client’s potential news story might fit. Or not.
In addition to specifics about their beats, curiosity about social media is on their minds, but so are the horror stories we continue to hear about PR people either spamming them with press releases or pounding them with unwanted phone calls. One WBJ reporter/columnist (who last week wrote a great piece about a Sawmill client) said she could spend all day simply fielding phone calls from perky PR people making follow-ups. Voicemail is her time-saver. Minutes later an editor talked to us about the balance of using techniques such as tweetups to reach out to younger readers when the core audience is still older businesspeople who aren’t likely spending time on social networking sites. They’re still trying to find that right mix.
It’s one thing to follow media on Twitter and Facebook (which we do and encourage others to do), but the recent meetups bring to mind a few tips for cutting through the clutter: take the time to meet these people in real life, only approach them when you have a decent story (your PR firm should be able to protect you from making a fool of yourself) and make sure you’re reaching out to the right reporter the right way in the right (brief) format. Otherwise, it’s “delete.”