Being quoted as an ‘expert’ in a magazine or newspaper, whether that’s consumer or business-to-business, online or in print, is often seen as the holy grail of an accountant’s marketing effort. This is because an independent journalist has identified you as an authority on your subject and potential (and indeed, existing) clients of yours may read the publication in which you’re quoted.
It gets even better. If you give comment to a journalist for one publication, this could well lead to you being quoted in another publication, and another publication, and another one after that. And who knows, you might one day find yourself on the BBC News expounding forth to Robert Peston!
If that sounds exciting, but well, also rather daunting, remember that we all need to start somewhere. And the great thing about social media is it gives you immediate and easy access to journalists in a way that only the big accountancy firms enjoyed before. So there’s no excuse for not having a go.
I have quoted some of my own Twitter followers in articles so I promise you it does work. Below are my top five tips for getting to know a journalist on Twitter.
1. Talk to us
Journalists love to engage (and yes, we have egos) and we like to think that our self-indulgent musings on Twitter are informing/amusing someone somewhere in the world. We are also genuinely interested in what you think. Our job is to know what’s happening out there on the ground. If you don’t tell us, no one will. So if you see a journalist ask a question on Twitter, and you have a view, what are waiting for? Tweet right back!
2. Be interesting
This, I know, is easier said than done. But you don’t necessarily need to be wildly controversial to stand out on Twitter. If you just share a select gem or two, every so often, you will start to build up a profile. Did something funny happen on a client visit today? Did you have a particularly crazy conversation with HM Revenue & Customs? Remember, you’re on the front line so you’d be surprised how interested a journalist might be in your tales. And follow other conversations that are happening on Twitter – before long you’ll be itching to join in!
3. Do a survey
Journalists love surveys. Oh, how we love surveys. When I was editor of Accountancy magazine, I can’t tell you how many stories based on surveys I ran – as well as the obvious surveys on business confidence, lack of credit, etc, I ran surveys about depressed accountants, fat accountants and accountants who hated Mondays. And the reason why journalists love surveys is that readers love them too. So that’s why they’re a winner.
4. Be persistent but polite.
You know the old adage. If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. All relationships are built up through frequent contact and communication and Twitter is no different. Don’t get disheartened if your first few tweets don’t bear much fruit. Keep plugging away and you’ll increase your chances of getting noticed. You won’t be tweeting just to attract journalists’ attention in any case, you’ll be building up Twitter followers from all sorts of backgrounds. And that means that even if no publicity arises as a result of your efforts, those efforts won’t be wasted.
Going back to my first point, we journalists have egos. We like a bit of attention. Something has to make up for the bad pay. Retweet what we say and we will love you forever. You may also find that we start to retweet you, which will help you pick up new Twitter followers and build your own following. Providing you don’t start to annoy your followers with too many retweets, this is a win-win all round.
So those are my tips for finance professionals who want to build a fruitful relationship with a journalist on Twitter. One word of warning, you might want to start with trade journalists first and work your way up to Stephanie Flanders or Robert Peston!