Public RelationsSocial Media

Twitter Forces PR Pros to Get to the Point (Journalists Love It)

Is it just me, or are journalists and PR people playing nice on Twitter? For some reason, the media have embraced Twitter as their platform of choice. It’s hard to find an organization (or journalist) that has avoided Twitter’s inertia. Of course, where there are journalists, there are PR people. The most popular PR people on Twitter have tens of thousands of followers on Twitter (and they all follow the media too).

Despite there being many different directories and lists of media on Twitter, there has been little backlash from the media community. And to the best of my knowledge, the “PR spam” issue has yet to rear its ugly head in Twitterland. If that didn’t evidence enough, there’s the wildly popular #journchat (and several copycats) that regularly pull participants from both sides of the aisle (journos and flacks). That’s worth repeating… you have a bunch of journalists openly tweeting with PR folks about how to work more effectively together. The ratio of PR to journos does seem to be more skewed in favor of PR lately though, so it may not last much longer. That’s probably the case with most “tweet chats” in general, but that’s a future post.

So why is Twitter such a great place for journalists and PR people to exchange ideas, get to know one another, and go back to building relationships? PR pros only get 140 characters to get their point across. This is why a lot of people like Twitter. It forces all of us to get to the point for a change. Let’s face it, some people use too many words. I’m one of them. I could have done without this entire sentence in this paragraph.

Twitter forces you to choose your words wisely, something websites and blogs don’t do. With a blog, there are no limits, use all the words you want – heck, it’s better for SEO anyway, right?

Greg Galant, CEO of Sawhorse Media (the folks behind Muck Rack and the Shorty Awards), recently wrote an article in PRWeek that talked about this topic and “How Twitter Saved Public Relations From PR.”  In the article, Galant gives a great example of some jargon-laden content from a major organization. Something he says can no longer fly in a medium like Twitter. “Few people respond well to the carefully-crafted and jargon-packed messages they receive from corporations, especially during a time like this when once seemingly stable brands can collapse overnight,” says Galant. His advice for Twitter? Act like a real person. I also liked Galant’s description of Twitter as a “one-line wire service” in the article.

It is really is fascinating to me that Twitter has got us to play by the 140 character rule. Imagine what would happen if we could limit all areas of communication? You only get three minutes to talk in a meeting. You get 5 seconds to leave me a voicemail, and two should be spent repeating your phone number. Or you only get two sentences to respond to an email.

When most PR people have a hard time keeping it to 400 words – the base limit for most press release services – it’s impressive that PR is comfortable with the Twitter limits (then again, you can make up the difference by tweeting too much – you know who you are).

In a way, Twitter can make you appreciate why journalists like brevity so much. Traditional journalists were reared in a column-inch, word limit world. They’ve always had to get their point across upfront,  in as few words as possible. It’s about time PR has to play by the same rules.

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