On Wednesday I spoke at the Social Media Academy #LinkedInConf on the subject of ‘Targeting Journalists on LinkedIn’, so I thought I would share some of my thoughts, and some additional points that came out of the discussion, here.
Firstly, when I heard the title, I thought: ‘Cripes, targeting journalists’? The very idea, for me, conjures images of Titian’s Death of Actaeon: the hunter and the hunted, if you will.
To be clear, this really is not necessary.
You see, the first error made, in many cases, by communications professionals is that media relations is still being positioned at the centre of campaigns.
It seems rather odd to me, considering all of the talk about the importance and impact of social media, and the fact that there are free-to-use, readymade channels to go direct to one’s target audience, journalists are still positioned on pedestals, such as they are.
So, as a radical idea, I propose, instead of targeting journalists on LinkedIn, why not create decent content and take your message directly to the audience you want it to reach, via social media channels?
Surely this provides more certainty and the proof is in the results.
Now, I’m not being a traitor to those who work in journalism, I know, first-hand, how hard journalists work. I merely want to encourage PR professionals to save themselves the effort of hammering phones trying to sell hacks ideas they don’t need, wasting everyone’s time, and, instead, turn their attentions to claiming the social media space to improve and secure the industry.
I will now step down from my soapbox and twist the direction of this post along a more positive vector.
Before the event, I spoke to many journalists, from those working online only, through trade publications, to the national newspaper hacks.
I asked them all if they used LinkedIn and, if so, how?
The responses were, of course, mixed, but really mostly amounted to a permutation of: ‘online CV’.
Having held a discussion with the delegates of the #LinkedInConf, there seems to be some confusion on how to use the platform successfully from the PR side as well.
What I would say is that there needs to be additional reasons for journalists to use LinkedIn, by way of groups and forums, where they can go to pick up titbits of news and find tools to help them do what they do best.
When I threw out to my Twitter feed, on several occasions prior to the event, the question: ‘Does anyone have any interesting examples of where they’ve used LinkedIn effectively?’, I was met with silence.
This is a rare thing when I ask PR professionals a question on my Twitter feed to hear nothing back so I assume that there was very little out there to share, but do correct me if I’m wrong and share your thoughts below.
What was rather positive came from the journalist’s answers, where some of them came back to me explaining that their editors were keen to explore the platform further, or that they had been discussing with colleagues how they might use it.
So, in conclusion, journalists are certainly on LinkedIn ready and waiting to be shown the way. They are also keen to use it in many cases so my advice to PR professionals is that it is a medium well worth another look, if you aren’t using it already.