Post 7, 2009. Twitter Do’s and Don’ts for PRs

I’m getting so many PR followers these days, and so few of them seem to do much more than open an account, that I figured it could be useful to offer some advice on how to get the most from Twitter.

So here goes!


Don’t lurk. Twitter has become very conversational. If you are listening, but not talking, you are not adding value to the social network and people will not value your input. In fact they’ll think you are a pathetic bandwagoning n00b, which will NOT be good for your reputation.
If you must lurk to get a feel for Twitter or to watch journos in the hope of learning something, do so by reading your intended friends’ tweets as RSS feeds before joining yourself. Consuming Twitter through feeds means you can do so anonymously, a good idea while you learn.

Don’t expect every Tweet you send to be read. Twitter is not like email: members don’t generally feel a compulsion to read every message they receive. Even @messages. This factoid will probably influence the way you use Twitter for pitching.

Don’t block your tweets. Twitter is a conversation. So if you block your tweets, but expect to read others, you are sending out some very mixed messages. My rule is that I block blockers, because I don’t want people to watch me who plainly have no interest in conversation.

Don’t expect that being a Twitter friend makes your relationship with a journalist any deeper. A dud pitch is a dud pitch, no matter how many times we have tweeted at each other.


Converse. It doesn’t have to be about work and Twitter is not a place to display your refined thoughts. Let yourself go and people will respond. Lurk and nothing will happen.

Download a Twitter client or three. Twitter clients make Twitter a more prominent part of your day, thereby enhancing its usefulness. Or at least the likelihood that you’ll get the hang of Twitter. Give one or more a try. I like Twitbin.

Share. Let your followers know what you are reading, watching or listening to. This information offers important clues about your identity that lets journos understand you.

Be honest. When I am plugging a story, I write [plug] before the tweet. If you are tweeting for professional purposes, let the reader know or …

… Create two accounts – one for yourself, one for your professional tweets. Delineating your work and personal lives will be useful because it means both streams will have a clearer, more genuine, voice.

Learn about hashtags and how to use and follow them. Then you’ll be on your way to understanding Twitter as a way to measure public opinion.

Prepare to monitor and analyse Twitter streams during and after events (and phone interviews), as these will tell you a lot about how much attention is being paid to your clients and immediate response to their words. Perhaps you even need a plan B if the Twitter stream is hostile, mid-speech?

Consider using Twitter as a press release distribution mechanism. It’s less intrusive than email.

Do you have any other tips? Go wild in the comments.


Another Do just occurred to me.

Post a few tweets before you start following media.  When you follow someone, they receive an email. To follow you, they must visit your Twitter address.

This takes a little time, so make it worth their while by making sure you have something to see.

Indeed, if you are trying to show media you are hip with the groovers on Twitter, nothing negates this more than a Twitter timeline with no Tweets on it. The only thing worse, IMHO, is a Twitter stream that contains just one tweet that says “I’m trying Twitter” or something similar. If that’s all that’s in your Twitter stream the first time a journo sees it, there’s every chance you’ll be perceived as a late-to-the-party try-hard.


9 thoughts on “Post 7, 2009. Twitter Do’s and Don’ts for PRs

  1. The lurking thing is really starting to bug me. Lots of PR people follow journalists without ever contributing a crumb. It’s as if they are looking over your shoulder while you are writing.

    Of course, some are golden.

  2. Good points that should be shared around…

    There is something to be said about Twitter users who say “too much”… How much is too much? When people stop following you I suppose.

    I also think it’s worth checking out Twitter pages before adding them to make sure your Twitter feed is relevant to your interests…

    FYI: The hastags link does not appear to be working…

    Nick Healy

  3. Yep – I think from a PR perspective, while twitter is clearly a useful tool, I’m very aware that when I tweet about what I’m actually doing at the time might come across as a thinly veiled plug for client xyz – or the agency.

    With that in mind, I think a lot of things I/we are doing are of genuine interest to those who follow – not just journalists – and it’s a genuine part of the conversation.

    I have noticed particularly in the last couple of months, the number of auto responses, bots and marketing gimmicks infiltrating twitter. Naturally this creates more interest in those who take part in open, authentic and transparent discussion – and tweeps have a very finely tuned bullshit meter for the rest. 🙂

  4. Another tip – and this is something I like to look for – the one liner bios. Some people just don’t bother with it unfortunately. It’s great when you’re looking to follow people and for people who might be looking to follow you.

    Plus I totally agree about the blocking – if you’re going to follow me but block your updates, then what’s the point?

  5. Some great tips. In fact, this all translates well to anyone who wants to use Twitter for anything more than simply shooting the breeze to kill time (and who does that nowadays?).

    Strategically, Twitter is one of the most rewarding tools for the independent music sector (where I’m focused) and the people who use it as you suggest are pretty much winning the game.


  6. I have to say when I first had Twitter suggested to me by Andrew (DUBBER) I didn’t get it, but I think I can see where its going and I liked this article a lot: interesting stuff. Thanks

  7. Pingback: Twitter do’s and don’ts for PRs « Knowledge Workers

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