How a Tweet Nearly Damaged Scott Simon’s Desk

Unusual events and festivals are profiled regularly on the National Public Radio program Weekend Edition Saturday. So, the program and host Scott Simon came to mind when I was preparing to pitch stories about the first World Invitational Moose Calling Championship in Rangeley, Maine. I don’t know Simon well enough to have his personal e-mail address, but I know that he loves Twitter. He tweets and retweets daily, and I figured that a moose calling pitch via an @ tweet would get his attention.

“Treat WE listeners to finer points of moose calling,” was my pitch. I also pitched another story for a different client in the same tweet.

About 30 minutes later Simon replied with, “A moose-calling story? Please DM me!”

I sent him more info and a link in a direct message, and three weeks later I had the crowning “parking lot moment” of my life when Simon spoke the words, “So if you wanted a moose to come on over and join you for a latte, what would you say?”

Kevin Dechaine at the World Invitational Moose Calling ChampionshipSimon’s three minute interview with Championship emcee and expert moose caller Roger Lambert was informative and funny. After trying his own moose call, Simon got laughing so hard he slapped his hand on his studio desk with a loud smack. A 51-character tweet had resulted in a story broadcast on more than 600 radio stations in the U.S., and shared on dozens of local public radio station websites.

Using Twitter to pitch stories to media isn’t a trend. Pitching is personal, and knowing how a media contact prefers to receive a pitch should be your first objective. Making a call can be the quickest way to pitch, and e-mail allows more details and links to be shared. But, for those who want to test the story-sharing power of the Twitterverse here are some tips for pitching media in 140 characters or less.

Pitch to Those Who Want Pitches

I took the risk of Tweeting to Simon without knowing if he liked pitches in his Twitter stream. It’s best to email or call a media contact to find out if it’s OK to pitch them by Tweet, and preferably through a direct message, before doing so. Also, look at people’s Twitter profiles to see if they welcome pitches. You may be surprised at how many are OK with it.

Tell How the Story Will Benefit the Audience

Even with an abbreviated pitch, it’s important to share how the story will touch its audience. If you have an idea that will save people money, improve their health, or bring about world peace, say exactly that and not something like, “Hey, I have an awesome story idea for you.” The goal of any pitch is to entice the recipient to want to learn more.

Provide a Link to More (Helpful) Information

It’s important to be detailed in a tweet, especially if adding a shortened link improves your pitch. If your pitch is about a person, provide a link to a full bio or a video that demonstrates what makes them story-worthy. Giving a link to the homepage of a business website or to a 127-page report someone co-authored isn’t helpful or enticing.

Don’t Forget to Follow Up

If a Tweet by direct message doesn’t get a response in 48 hours, follow up with another DM, or make a phone call. The worst pitch is the one that ends without any conversation (written or verbal) with the media contact. Most people appreciate some kind of follow-up, and it’s beneficial even if all you find out is that the person is on vacation or just really busy.

So, take a closer look at your media contacts on Twitter, and if any are a good fit try a pitch by Tweet to change things up and generate stories in an alternative way.

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