The hashtag journorequest on Twitter is the sort of tool that pre-digital-age PRs could only dream about.
It reveals what used to be days of PR research in just 14 characters – the topics journalists are writing about. No wonder it’s become so popular. So popular, that when I put out a #journorequest recently, I had to sieve through scores of keen responses.
So how can make your response to a #journorequest stand out? As a journalist and producer I use this feature regularly. Here’s my insight into what I pick up on.
1. Respond in the format the journalist has asked for.
Look at this recent #journorequest I made when brainstorming ideas for a January ‘fitness trends’ piece. I asked that people direct message me in two sentences. This is because I wanted the responses in one place, so that I scan them easily when I have a spare 10 minutes. Yet countless media-hungry personal trainers, diet gurus and PRs looked up my email and emailed me. Tough luck, because I didn’t have the time to cross reference different communication channels. The responses that came in by email just got buried in my forest of an inbox. Of course, some journalists may want you to email, so follow what they suggest.
2. Make sure your top line is at the top of your response
Often, when a journalist or editor has put out a #journorequest, they are just at the pitching stage, not the writing stage. They probably don’t want too many details for this stage (a freelance journalist won’t be getting paid and a staff journalist will have three story ideas on the go). So you need to sum up what you can offer in two lines. Often the journalist themselves will be pitching to an editor in two lines. So, do their job for them.
3. Keep it relevant
If the journalist has asked for a case-study or an expert, don’t then send them an idea for a product to reviews or a day out, no matter how relevant you think it is to the subject matter. Look at this recent #journorequest I made when producing at ITV London News recently. I got responses from people selling Star Wars masks, Star Wars themed sweets and even a sci-fi play coming to a theatre soon!
If you are looking for publicity for a product, you might find this post useful on getting product reviews.
4. Put contact details
If you are communicating via Twitter, it may be that your DM facility is set to only receive messages from people you follow, so make sure you give a clear way they can get in touch if they want to take up your great and relevant response. You’ll be up against lots of media-hungry tweeters so make communication as easy as possible.
5. Don’t add the journalist’s email to your newsletter or press release distribution list
If the journalist has given their email, only use it for that particular #journorequest. Most journalists need specific ideas that go with specific pages or sections they write for. Only send press releases if you know the recipient is open to general ideas on a regular basis. Every time you make an irrelevant story suggestion you dilute your chances and your brand.
6. Don’t hijack #journorequest with PR material
And finally, the journorequest hashtag is a great facility for the media industry. Many PRs use it to tell the world about a new product or event. For that you should use #prrequest. If journorequest gets mis-used, editors at influencial magazines and papers will simply stop using it, and you’ll have to go back to endless pitching again!
Nine Media runs regular PR training courses. You can look at all our upcoming courses here. We also offer in-house bespoke training days for PRs and comms teams, covering all sectors of the media from newspapers, magazines, digital, broadcast and trade press. Contact us for more details.