Given that I’m a relative newbie at media relations, I try to keep a close eye on what they do, in case I’m working with them. Given that I also spend the majority of my time in non-media world, I’m one of the few people who take an interest in their actions without having to directly interact (positively or negatively) from them. Interested, unaffiliated party let’s say.
And this is one of the coolest new developments that I’ve seen. Reporters looking for sources via Twitter.
Anyone know any of the 55 with E. Coli after the Neff's Lawn Care picnic? I'd love to talk to them! Call me at 937.673.0626.—
Kate Bartley (@katebartleyWHIO) July 11, 2012
It’s not the first time I’ve seen that, but the number of reporters and producers that are doing it has increased by leaps and bounds in the last few months. (And, hey, they wouldn’t do it if it didn’t work, right?) In fact, one of the first times I’d seen it was during the Midway Airport quarantine of Delta Flight 3163:
Caryn Rousseau (@carynrousseau) April 26, 2012
I’m sure I don’t have to tell you what this means for those of us who work with the media. They’ve expanded their potential pool of sources, to just about everyone. And that means they will get more sources. Better placed sources. Source perhaps with an axe to grind. The thing about it is, we can see what’s coming down the pike now. By following or monitoring members of our local media on Twitter, we can see what’s coming down the pike; and isn’t the first rule of crisis communications famously getting ahead of the story?
That’s great Jim, but how can I possibly follow all of the media in my area? I’ll be the first to admit, it’s tough. Especially because I have a large group of people I follow on Twitter and don’t want to intermingle the two. So I created lists. Lists of Philly-centric print media, Philly-centric TV media, etc.
And I won’t lie, it’s not easy building those lists; it takes time. One shortcut that I found was the MuckRack website, which purports to be a “destination for journalists on Twitter.” The service they sell is real-time notifications about what the press–your press–is talking about online right now. Journalists sign up for free, communications follows pay a fee. But you can still see who’s signed up in your area for free. And, ultimately, their Twitter accounts. Which you can then follow or add to your lists. With a bit of elbow grease and some periodic culling and additions, I have an ear to what the media is talking about and can now see when someone in my area is digging for sourcing online.