Twitter chat: Do’s and don’ts of pitching to the media

On October 22, the Hamilton Media Guild did something we haven’t done before. We hosted a twitter chat, inviting Jane Allison, the Hamilton Spectator’s Manager of Community Partnerships, to share her expertise about media pitches. The twitter chat was a preview of Connecting the Dots in Media, a workshop hosted by the Hamilton Media Guild at HIVEX.

Unfamiliar with a twitter chat? A twitter chat is also known as a tweet chat. Here’s the definition used in Forbes magazine’s “Ultimate Guide to a Tweet Chat”:

A tweet chat is a live Twitter event, usually moderated and focused around a general topic. To filter all the chatter on Twitter into a single conversation a hashtag is used. A set time is also established so that the moderator, guest or host is available to engage in the conversation.

If you’re still unsure, read the Forbes’ article to learn everything you need to know about twitter chats, including how to host your own.

For those who aren’t familiar with Jane Allison and her tireless work as a Hamilton leader, she’s an award-winning public relations leader who has worked with more than 100 annual partnerships. Her passion for the Hamilton community and journalism were both evident in her Hamilton Media Guild Twitter chat, which covered multiple topics, among them newsworthiness, how to garner attention for a media pitch, and timeliness. Among her advice was:

  • Stories not to pitch to media outlets: cheque presentations; groundbreakings; ‘official openings’; anniversaries.
  • It takes about 10 to 20 seconds for a reporter to determine if a story pitch is worthy of attention. Reporters are inundated, so a good pitch stands out.
  • Knowing the media outlet really helps. What does the media outlet you’re pitching to cover regularly? Ask yourself if you can connect to that beat in some way.
  • Pitch efficiently and cleanly, focusing on the W5 and WSIC (Why Should I Care?).
  • How to pitch a story: By email, with your headline in the subject line; One screen of content; Bullet points are great. And don’t forget your contact info!

Jessica Rose

Jessica Rose is a writer, editor, and social-media coordinator who lives and works in Hamilton's downtown core. Since earning a degree in journalism from Carleton University, Jessica has written for many publications in Hamilton and across Canada. She is the Director of Programming for gritLIT: Hamilton's Readers and Writers Festival, a Living Arts blogger for the Hamilton Arts Council, and the writer of "Shelf Life," her column in Hamilton Magazine. Outside of gritLIT, Jessica is the Public Relations Chair for Hamilton HIVE young professional organization. For more, visit www.notmytypewriter.com or find Jessica on twitter at @NotMyTypewriter.

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