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How Defense Contractors Can Improve Public Relations With Twitter

Defense contractors who use Twitter correctly can develop relationships with the news media to tell their company's story when the news is both good and bad.


 photo credit: edkohler via photopin cc

Defense contractors who try to gain media exposure for their company can face enormous rejection.

Oftentimes the reporter is not interested in your pitch or does not know you (or your company). And usually, the reporter is busy and on a deadline. Your calls don't get answered, your messages don't get a response. Breaking through can seem impossible.

However, for those reporters who use Twitter, you can follow what stories they are working on, provide helpful information and even pitch them with short, direct messages.

Twitter is a "micro-blogging" service, which means that you can post messages of up to 140 characters. It can be used to receive rapidfire, concise information from many people. And many journalist are using Twitter.

The benefits and basics of using Twitter to help with public relations are outlined in HubSpot's ebook "How to Use Twitter for Business: Master the Essentials to Better Share, Engage & Market on Twitter."

Here are some best practices for defense contractors to pitch the media using Twitter:

  • Using Twitter for media relations starts with following the influencers in your industry. They could be writers, journalists, reporters and increasingly, bloggers.
  • Once you're following these people, begin to reach out to them via Twitter by retweeting them, asking them a question, or responding to their tweets.
  • Sometimes a reporter will use Twitter to announce that they are looking for ideas, sources or subject matter experts for a particular story they are developing. If you can answer and help, reply to the reporter on Twitter. Because of the real-time nature of of Twitter, it's a great way for reporters to look for last minute, additional resources for their stories.
  • Twitter is an excellent way to send reporters tips to other links and resources just to be helpful and improve your relationship with them. This applies even if the information isn't regarding your company. Being helpful like that tends to endear the reporter to you and your company and keep them mindful of you when they are more likely to use you as a reference or source.
  • Send reporters a direct message on Twitter instead of an email. By sending a direct message, you are forced to create a short, concise pitch that a busy reporter is more likely to read. A direct message also saves YOU time by not having to draft a lengthy pitch (remember, you only get 140 characters).
  • Use Twitter to see what the reporter is up to that day before pitching your story. They may have just tweeted that they are sick, traveling, having a bad day, or busy working on something else. With Twitter you can learn this type of thing, enabling your pitch to arrive at a better time.

And who knows, you might even get interviewed by a leading defense industry publication on Twitter itself. That's what happened to me recently when I was interviewed by DefenceIQ's Editor-in-Chief Andrew Elwell for the first ever Tweeterview.

What do you think? What challenges are you having with media relations? Please share your comments below.

The Principal and Founder of Artillery, Douglas Burdett is a former artillery officer and Madison Avenue ad man. He also hosts The Marketing Book Podcast, where he interviews authors every week about the latest in modern marketing and sales.

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