Twitter presents a unique opportunity to build relationships, which can be particularly valuable when you or your clients are trying to interact with reporters and other members of the media.  Reporters’ busy schedules can make it challenging for them to respond to your e-mail or phone call, but a mention on Twitter may grab their eye, even when they’re on the go.    

Once you follow the reporters who are most influential in your space, the next step is to get a conversation going.  When you tweet out an article written by a journalist with you would like to build a rapport with, simply give them a “shout out” in your post.  Giving recognition to the reporter puts your Twitter account, and thus your company, on their radar. A quick, casual “Great article” followed by the reporter’s Twitter handle can go a long way.

Another way to start a dialogue (or simply spark the attention of a reporter or influencer) on Twitter is a mention when you are tweeting content you think they might genuinely be interested in.  The key to make this move successful is to really know the other person’s beat and interests. Tweeting out something they truly enjoy seeing is a success, but sharing something they do not care about minimizes your credibility.

Last, do not give up after one try.  Giving one single shout-out might not do the trick, but consistently offering relevant, thoughtful content will produce better results.  As you do so, be sure to strike the proper tone.  Starting and maintaining a conversation is great, but tweeting at someone too much can be nuisance.  The frequency is up to you, and it will likely depend on the influencer you are trying to target: If it’s someone who uses Twitter strictly professionally and somewhat sporadically, a shout out here and there will be enough.  For someone who tweets many times a day and clearly sees Twitter as a place to engage and have fun, there is more flexibility with frequency.

The most important tip when starting relationships on Twitter is to be yourself and have fun.  Now get out there and Tweet!