Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Be Careful What You Tweet

Read this post on BusinessWeek by Stephan Baker a few weeks ago and found it interesting to hear a journalist’s perspective on a PR person’s intent to pitch via Twitter. Here’s the pitch:

Saw your Twitter post this morning about The Last Time. Love that song. I’m also a big fan of Dead Flowers.
Anyway, thought this story about businesses integrating voice into their every day apps might work for your blog. For me, what particularly stands out about voice integration is that it helps drive usage and makes of applications more effective, especially those that are hard for employees to adopt (i.e. CRM modules)…

The journalist’s reaction? Well, he “liked” the pitch enough to blog about it, so I’m guessing his reaction wasn’t so great.

Lesson learned? Twitter is a unique emerging microtrend, however I don’t think we are quite ready to use it as an avenue for pitching. Believe it or not, journalists are people too – and they have an uncannning ability to smell fake, even through e-mail. What struck me about this pitch was not that the pitching PR pro used a twitter post as means to establish a connection between the reporters’ interests and his/her product; it was his/her lack of sincerity.

When cultivating relationships with reporters, it is important for PR professionals to be sincere. In other words, focus on the relationship, not “what can this reporter do for me now.” The real benefit will be seen in the long term.

So where does Twitter fit in? At this point, Twitter should be used only to build and grow relationships with reporters and NOT as a pitching tool. Through Twitter, I can find that Charlene Li created an audio version of her book. Or that Scobleizer likes toolbars, especially this one. Or that Nate Elliot likes the new Live Search features. Or that Rafe Needleman is canceling his eFax account. (Oh wait, update: he is sticking with it for another few months until his subscription runs out).

Maybe once you have that relationship established, hey go for it. Pitch via twitter. But until then it would be wise to leave twitter to the tweeters.

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