Twit’s about more than media relations

Twitter is a great ally in the game of media relations.

My concern is that some PR folk see it as nothing more than a journalist liaison aide. And if they keep on with that behaviour, it’ll ultimately come back to bite them.

What am I banging on about? Well firstly, at least PR people who’ve taken to Twitter and are using it to help them track, intercept and pitch stories in conventional media are using a social media platform to help them in their work.

The problem is that it’s a short-sighted approach. Using Twitter to befriend and nobble journalists with potential stories is only one small step on from using email rather than the phone (a piece of technological progress that, while quick and convenient, has taken its toll on phone skills).

There’s a bigger point here. The people who make the best PR people are those who love media and stories, who are fundamentally clever and who are prepared to work hard. Just using Twitter as another string to the pitching bow means good PRs are likely to be seriously underselling their potential. Worse, they may be failing to get to grips with the skills and outlook required to gain the more expansive skills that PR now needs, and will continue to need more of in the future.

So how should PR people be using Twitter? Well far be it from me to lay down the law, and I’ve got a load to learn myself.

But surely Twitter, and indeed any other applicable form of digital media, should be used to help develop the fundamental skills of PR? For example:

-Loving media and stories: follow a varied diet of story feeds from owned, social and conventional media, and in particular look to learn (and share that knowledge) from great storytelling and new techniques for doing so

-Being fundamentally clever: use it to help develop further sector expertise, media experience and market/economic insight, as a turbo-charged version of the old ‘read your press’ plea of agencies in the pre-digital age

-Working hard: Twitter is bloody great for enabling people who’ve made good connections to get breaking news, see rounded analysis, hear what’s happening elsewhere in the PR world and generally keep track of the wider world much more effectively. Put simply, you can make your hard work go further by using the technology

These are the types of things that can help PR people to be better at their jobs, rather than using Twitter as some sort of extra media relations channel.

And anyone doing conventional media relations who then has to email colleagues asking for content to be retweeted should be thinking about why they haven’t yet figured out how to use social media to be more than a bolt-on fluffer for media relations. Because it’s about way more than that.

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