Why aren’t PRs using Twitter?

Arguably the most important social media tool around is Twitter. For journalists – the ones that “get it” at least – it has meant a new network of contacts, shared information and friends. 

News is increasingly broken by ordinary people with iPhone Twitter apps or normal office workers sat at their desks updating Twitter by web or Gtalk and not by dashing reporters in long macs, or even agency reporters in far-flung bureaux. It is the canary in the news coal mine.

So it’s great and everybody loves it.

But where are the PRs? As Michael Cooper (@michaelcooper) rightly said a while back, “If newsdesks had Twitter at their disposal, the relationship between hacks and flacks could change dramatically”.

He says: “From instant updates like ‘Don’t bother me. I’m on deadline!’ through to ‘Looking for urgent case study about….’ journalists should be using Twitter as a tool to interact with PRs. If newsdesks are evolving into 24-hour bodies, maybe it’s time for their journalists to move away from resources like ResponseSource to a more immediate communication tool.”

Indeed. But more and more, on some national papers and forward-thinking regionals, journalists are getting it big time. Trinity Mirror seem to be leading the way in both Liverpool and Birmingham where journalists use Twitter to connect with people locally as well as to break and aggregate news. But are PR officers seizing the opportunity?

Though I know people who have, I’ve never been approached by a PR on Twitter and I would quite happily discuss story that way. Or what about sending press releases or statements out that? Downing Street does. Even the Mars Lander does.

And for PRs it could be a good career move - Todd at PR-Squared says he has hired people because they handled themselves well on Twitter.

So if you want me to write about your newspaper/website/magazine follow me and let’s start talking. And if you are in public relations and already a prolific Tweeter, get in touch and prove me wrong.

UPDATE 07-08-08 – A Twitter friend tweets to say that tech PR people are ‘all over it, unsurprisingly’. That would make sense, it’s just not something I’ve seen myself.

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8 responses to “Why aren’t PRs using Twitter?

  1. Pingback: iPhone News » Blog Archive » Why aren’t PRs using Twitter?

  2. More of us are using it but I think there is a way to go and the awy we use it will evolve and become more mainstream. The little black book of contacts (or your outlook version) will be replaced by how many journalists follow you on Twitter…and it will be visible. http://twitter.com/robbrown

  3. Firstly, welcome to blog land… PRs don’t do social media so well because they tend to come at it as they would traditional media and that just doesn’t work. They’d be far better off just listening to what was going on rather than getting deeply involved. Same goes for journalists.

  4. All I can tell you is that 70% of SHIFT’s team is on Twitter religiously. Since I went to bed at 11pm last night and checked my RSS feed this morning, almost 350 tweets from our guys.

    Of course, a lot of it is just silly stuff… but, they are there, engaged and participating. And I agree with your friend that many tech PR types from other firms are joining, too.

  5. PRs are using Twitter but the industry in the UK at least is still very much print focused in terms of how they measure ‘results’ (ie getting journalists to publish their ‘stories’).

    If PG goes web only, you may find yourself a lot less bothered by them!

  6. Patrick,

    Thanks for the link.

    I’d encourage anyone in the communications industry to give Twitter a go. It borders on a tool that could just eat up time but like all tools, we need to learn to manage it effectively. Considering most people still can’t handle email, I’m not hopeful.

    I think Twitter will evolve and, as Rob pointed out, the opportunity to merge contact information from Outlook or Address Book with Twitter will be the ultimate benefit for PRs. Being able to check on the status of journalists before placing that crucial call that will make or break your story will be an essential benefit for most of us.

    I’ve found Twitterific on my iPhone to be a suberb tool that allows me to keep track or tweets without having to log on at my desktop. If only I could link that information to my contacts and my life would be complete!

    Todd – I’m worried your guys are not getting enough sleep! 70% uptake is a fantastic acheivement. Do you use it to communicate directly with each other internally or is it simply for open updates to the world at large? I’ve wondered about the principles of using Twitter within a workplace environment but I can’t get past the similarities to MSN messenger which I know is both seen as a popular comms tool and also a hinderance to the working day.

  7. Pingback: One Man and His Blog

  8. I signed up to Twitter because I knew Downing Street was using it. As a hack, I’d happily be pointed to stories by people (readers, PRs, whoever) using Twitter, but you have to know they exist before you can follow them.

    Following the trail of who other people are following and, perhaps, adding those people is kind of fun, but I reckon there could be a market for some kind of directory of Twitter users who want other Twitter users to follow them.

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