While it’s easier than ever to read about what people think online, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s easier to reach them. Trying to get Hillary Clinton on the line is like trying to get to Beyonce — you probably have to have a good reason and a good connect.
Although, when I wanted to talk to the person for a story, out of my five extended networks, I have been able to reach people through Twitter (just not Hillary Clinton, yet). You don’t want to interview people on Twitter, but social media is a great way to get to someone you don’t already have an email or phone number for.
1) Bypass The Direct Message
I hate direct messages on Twitter, even more the Facebook kind, and don’t get me started on LinkedIn. If you’re going to DM someone, I find it’s more efficient to tweet right at them. Maybe it’s annoying (reporters are annoying), but I like the idea of making their phone buzz and forcing them to get back to me. If you’re going to message, you might as well just dig up an email, or guess at one.
2) Respect Their Time
Get right to the point. Tell them why you want to talk to them — they can figure out who you are easy enough with enough clicks. And ask, don’t demand. Just because you reach out to someone doesn’t mean they have to respond, especially last minute. Be humble, but forceful.
3) Be Worth Knowing
New York Magazine dug up the reporters and publications that Congress members follow on Twitter. If you just use social media to retweet links and share your own stories, start editorializing. Don’t you want the school board president or council members to know who are? This way, the next time, they’ll reach out to you.
What about you? What’s the most unorthodox way you’ve gotten a scoop or an interview?
- SXSWi 2014: Glenn Greenwald on Social Media, Surveillance and the Purpose of Journalism
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- The CIR Is On It: Telling the Story of Solitary Confinement for Teens Over, and Over, and Over Again