It’s no secret Twitter is a great tool for publicity.
More than 500 million Tweets are sent each day according to this very cool counter on Internet Live Stats. Most, if not all, tweets are sent by publicists trying to promote their products or embedding links to press releases. (Just kidding, it’s probably only 400 million.)
Journalists love Twitter and use it to break news, promote their articles, blogs, opinions, upcoming and already aired TV appearances, and more. Since PR professionals need to follow the media, it’s obvious they must master this tool as well. We covered how PR professionals use the social media platform in a previous column, and these tips include:
- You want to tell the public something about you, your business or your client such as a new product, an award, an upcoming event, or introduction into a new market; or to keep your audience updated during a crisis or emergency.
- Find out what your competitors, clients, friends, media or influencers are tweeting about.
- To meet new influencers, clients, friends, competitors or reporters and follow them and get them to follow you.
A well-written article from TrendKite adds some additional tips including “monitor for journalists looking for a source” and “monitor and protect your reputation.”
But Twitter may not last forever, at least in its current form. In October, Twitter (TWTR) announced they were looking for a buyer. As of today, it hasn’t been purchased, and the stock continues to bounce around from $15 to $18 a share.
Since Twitter is so important for the practice of PR, and because it is used so widely, that begs the question: if it does get sold, or decides to fold, or it mutates into something else, how will that change how publicity professionals do their jobs? I asked four professionals in public relations and the media industry for their thoughts on the subject.
“I’m a big fan of Twitter, but much of that is because it brings me so much enjoyment personally. I use my Twitter feed as a news feed, as a public square to learn what people are saying, and to connect socially with friends and acquaintances.
A Twitter blackout would do some damage to the way I do PR. I have a dedicated professional account, @sciencewriter, and I use that to deliver research news to the public, to interact with journalists, and to find journalist whom I haven’t met who appear to be interested in the topics I’m involved with. Because Twitter is a social medium, it has a casualness and—with the great majority of people who aren’t part of the angry troll mob—a friendliness that you wouldn’t always get in an email exchange.
Journalists, by and large, tend to enjoy Twitter, too. So as a PR professional, I want to be where the journalists are. To make Twitter work for you professionally, you do need to achieve a critical mass of interactions, which is this case is measured in number and quality of followers. You build this up in two ways: by providing good content, and, just as important by putting in the time to read and interact with your timeline, and to curate your follow list.
The ROI of this won’t make sense, or will always run in the red, until you hit this critical mass. After that Twitter is absolutely worth doing for PR, but the question is, do you have the resources available to build up your Twitter critical mass?”
– Steve Tally, Purdue University, Senior strategist for STEM, Purdue Public Affairs @sciencewriter
“As PR professionals, being flexible and adjusting to change is like second nature. Twitter is an amazing communication tool, especially because it gives us PR pros a great opportunity to have quick chats with media and learn more about them, personally. However, if it was no longer around, we’d figure out another way to learn more about media and stay connected. Instagram is a great back up for that purpose. As a professional, I used to use Twitter as my news feed because I follow all my favorite media folks on Twitter. However, Snapchat’s Discovery tool has become a great way to quickly catch up on national news and I certainly see myself using that tool more in the future, as media are moving towards Snapchat to get in front of younger audiences. ”
– Nicole Rodrigues, CEO, NRPR in Los Angeles, @NicoleRPR
“If Twitter disappeared tomorrow I’d dust off my fax machine and go back to how things were done in the 90s. Twitter’s fundamentally altered how journalism works in an irreversible way. Journalists demand a platform to send and receive information in real time, and the PR industry needs to be there for the party.”
– Greg Galant, CEO, Muckrack, @gregory
“Part of me would shed not one salty tear if Twitter receded into memory as other vital communications tools, like the Etch a Sketch, did. Don’t get me wrong — I still feel awed at how Twitter has allowed PR people to self-publish quickly and cheaply, reaching thousands of people at once. But with or without Twitter we need to pitch stories with sentences and storytelling, not just micro-bursts of 140 characters.” – Peter Winicov, Director, Media Relations, The Wharton School,
University of Pennsylvania, @pwinicov
Any more thoughts? Tweet me at @robwynne.
Robert Wynne owns a public relations agency in Redondo Beach, CA. He is a former journalist who wrote for Newsweek and the Los Angeles Times.