I’m not sure why a dancing baby was my son’s text answer to my “Did you finish your homework” question but that’s how he responded to me the other night. He was testing out Apple’s latest iOS10 update. I can barely decipher a smiling emoji from a sneering one and now Apple has added doodles, animation and stickers to its messaging app. Between Apple and Facebook’s Messenger, messaging is not only becoming more fun and feature heavy it’s becoming big business.
Whether it is WhatsApp, WeChat or Viper, the messaging universe is getting bigger by the day. So how can messaging be incorporated into a PR pitch? I don’t see a reporter welcoming a pitch accompanied by a sea of grumpy cat stickers and winking emojis but if they are indeed open to non-traditional pitch vehicles such as direct messaging (DM) then here are a few things to keep in mind.
Be a stalker: Well not literally. But do follow them on Twitter, like them on Facebook, etc. See what they are all about – what they write, how they write, what interests them. Then as appropriate, make honest comments and retweet without it coming across as a too gushy, everything you say is magical kind of thing. Never hurts to stroke them just a little bit as long as you are sincere.
I am what I am: Once you get a feel for the type of stories they are interested in, feel free to reach out to them with a timely, well thought-out and researched short pitch. Make sure you are up-front so they know that you are a PR professional and not just some random person that really, really likes X (insert product name here).
Respect the character count: My philosophy is, if it is more than a couple of exchanges, take it to email or pick up the phone. Same holds true in direct messaging a reporter. Give them a taste of what you are pitching – a few key tidbits to peak their interest. And resist the urge to include a press release – if they bite you can send them your materials and contact info as directed by them.
Call Me, Maybe: As with a traditional pitch, be considerate with the follow-up. Don’t message them constantly, leave a zillion voice messages about your DM or send endless emails about your DM. They are busy, on deadline, or maybe they just don’t like what you are offering. As one reporter said after he did not respond to follow-up emails and phone calls, “I’m not your boyfriend, so don’t text me.” Ouch.
And please, for goodness sake, no dancing babies.