By Ben Haber
July 9th, 2009
During an audio conference today run by Bulldog Reporter, a panel of six journalists were asked how they prefer to be contacted. The most popular answers were email and Twitter, while Facebook and LinkedIn received a mixed reaction. However, there was one method of communication was unanimously condemned: the telephone.
One common request from the panel was to only call a reporter if you have a good relationship with them. The message was about establishing relationships before jumping on the phone, because that’s how things get accomplished – through relationships. So here is my question: Don’t you think the best way to really get to know someone is by talking to them (with words, not text)? While email and Twitter allows you to communicate, there is no replacement for meeting someone in-person or speaking with them directly. It’s more personal and can establish an honest and good-working relationship quickly and effectively.
While I understand reporters don’t want to be called non-stop because it can be extremely disruptive, if a PR person knows they have a good story I don’t understand why a phone call signals the end of the world. Sure, it’s great to have the information on record via email, but what’s wrong with a quick introduction that shows the reporter you have read their stories, know their interests, and that your pitch is not a mail merge?
Another interesting topic was to see how many reporters were open to being pitched via Twitter, because some are clearly opposed to this idea. However, one panelist said that Twitter pitching was fine as long as it was through DM so that the pitch was private. But, since you can only pitch someone via DM if they are following you that creates a problem. Sure, you can work to establish a relationship to the point that someone will follow you, but that doesn’t always work. There is one one journalist that I have corresponded with via Twitter for several months and I have a very interesting story idea for. However, despite listing me in a #followfriday tweet a few weeks ago, she is still not following me, so I can’t DM her. Maybe Twitter needs a separate DM function for journalists that allows them to receive DMs from users they aren’t following.
While I have rambled on in this post I have been having a reoccurring question that I present to you: has social media made us less social? It appears that we are eliminating phone calls and one-on-one interactions in favor or posting a Tweet or Facebook message? How does this strengthen relationships? Sure, I know what Brian is having for lunch today (he lives in San Francisco and I’ve never spoken with him – actually, I don’t even know what he looks like), but does that really matter? During phone calls other aspects of life come up like weekend plans and what trade the Red Sox should make. This makes people human and establishes relationships.
My message is not that social media is bad. It’s a great thing. My message is that its important not to get so caught up in social media that we lose sight of other important things, like phone calls.