Journalists are the celebrities of the PR world. Wherever journalists go, there are sure to be some PR pros nearby. The more high-profile the journalist, the bigger the PR crowd – whether it’s a panel discussion at your local PRSA chapter or a journalist discussion on Twitter. I think this is a good thing. I’d be more worried about PR pros that don’t want to meet and learn from journalists.
Twitter is a great example of this dynamic in action. Journalists have flocked to Twitter. It’s the perfect environment for individual journalists to build a personal following with their readers. It’s also a great medium for building their personal brands. I believe Twitter provides PR pros the greatest insight into how journalists work and what their individual preferences are, far exceeding any “pitch tips” or journalist profiles they have ever had access to.
The trick to leveraging Twitter for media relations is knowing where to look. There are now several excellent resources for finding journalists on Twitter. I’ve highlighted a few of them for you in this post.
MediaOnTwitter was the first directory of journalists on Twitter to come along, or at least the first one to receive widespread national attention. I’ve talked about MediaOnTwitter a time or two before on this blog. For those of you not familiar, MediaOnTwitter began as a wiki, created by a group of public relations and social media superstars, and managed through the contributions of its users and editors. Everyone that uses MediaOnTwitter is encouraged to submit contacts and make corrections, similar to how the mass-collaboration encyclopedia Wikipedia works. The wiki was recently transformed into an online database with more sorting and browsing features, which makes it even easier to find the media contacts you’re looking for. To this point, MediaOnTwitter has been the most popular directory of journalists on Twitter with a strong community dedicated to its management. As a result, you’ll find the most comprehensive information in this database.
If you’re just looking for a “Who’s Who” of journalists using Twitter, start with MuckRack. I really like the way MuckRack designed their directory, making it easy for you to browse journalists by media outlet, media beat, or view featured journalists by each media outlet. When you select a category, your stream updates to only show tweets from those individuals in real time. MuckRack has also integrated a “trending topics” feature across its tracked journalists, which is a great real-time search tool for what the media is talking about. For example, as I write this “Supreme Court” is a trending topic. While MuckRack is not in the media database business, its directory is incredibly useful for finding journalists on Twitter, without having to weed through personal bloggers that use the word “journalist” in their profile, or submit themselves to the directory as a “reporter” (as is the case with some of the other resources).
Cision’s JournalistTweets is the latest entry into the mix, also providing a directory of journalists on Twitter. JournalistTweets is powered by Cision’s Media Database, which could signal there will be tighter integration between the Twitter directory and its commercial PR software in the future. This would make sense since Cision did announce earlier this year that it would be including Twitter handles in its media database. Cision has also integrated search into its JournalistTweets, making it easy for you to search keywords across only journalists in the JournalistTweet database. This is the feature most PR professionals will probably be most excited about with JournalistTweets.
Another good resource for finding journalists and media professionals on Twitter is directories like Twellow and WeFollow. These directories list Twitter users across all kinds of categories, making it easy for you to search by keyword. For example, you can search “journalist” or “editor” to find Twitter users that have used those words in their profiles. You can also browse by categories and narrow searches to refine your results. Both directories are user-generated, so you will have to weed through the contacts.
For both resources, Twitter users are organized by the number of followers they have. I like the look and feel of WeFollow the best, but I have found Twellow to have a lot more listings in different categories (it’s been around longer and was one of the first Twitter user directories created). As I mentioned above, accuracy is an issue with directories, since any Twitter user can be a “journalist” by using that word in their bio.
A third directory resource worth mentioning is JustTweetIt. While similar to WeFollow and Twellow, JustTweetIt has gone a step further and created a Reporter/Press Directory. Now granted, there are only a little more than 100 contacts in the directory, but maybe it will grow over time.
If you haven’t found all the journalists on Twitter by the time you’ve used all the suggestions above, I guess you could also try the Journalists On Twitter Wetpaint wiki. This wiki has a lot of good contacts in it, though its creators stopped updating it a couple of months ago (something about too many journalists on Twitter). I only mention it as a resource because I liked how they handled media categories and they had a “J-School professor” category, which I didn’t see on the other ones. Before you click over there to check it out, there are only a couple of professors on the list.