The buzz word over the past few years has been “authentic” and the sentiments to be “authentic, true, real and just be yourself” are encouraged by many. We definitely think that’s the way to go – who else are you going to be anyway, right? And why be anyone else, you’re fabulous, after all!

As communication professionals, we recognize that there’s a lot that can be missing from “reality” when it comes to being “social” online. The ability to see whether someone comprehends the conversation, inaccurate timing on when to jump in to clarify, and lack of appropriate tone are often missed or overlooked in online interactions. All of this and more matters when it comes to communicating in person, and the same challenges exist online – sometimes even more so.

When it comes to reaching out to media contacts or opportunities for strategic partnerships, the outreach options are endless: introductions, networking events, phone, e-mail, various social media channels and more (think underwater communication and smoke signals…really!)

If you’re reaching out to media via social platforms, here are some tips:

1) Pay attention. No one is expecting you to know everything that is happening on the planet, but it’s a good idea to take an interest in what is going on. When it comes to news outlets, you need to know when there’s obviously bigger news happening. You wouldn’t run into the middle of a wedding ceremony to announce the score of a football game (hopefully not!) so be aware of your online environment and what’s happening as well. Also, take note of changes in the media contact’s profile, as writers, editors, journalists, producers, etc. may have moved or added additional outlets. And of course,  pay attention to things s/he is tweeting about as it allows for more natural engagement.

2) Take your time to think. This doesn’t mean move slowly as much as it means to give yourself time to think. When reaching out via Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, etc., especially to media professionals, you not only want to think about your message as you do your outreach, but also the interpretation of other messages on your feed if your intended target starts to take an interest in you. Many people use social media as their personal tool to vent. An occasional vent is fine, but if your team is running a promotional campaign, perhaps this is not the best time to do any whining on your channels.

3) Be yourself (of course)! Your professional self. You are who you are and it’s important that whatever you’re portraying online is consistent to “who” and “how” you are, and that goes for your brand as well. We always say to lean toward the side of professional when you’re not sure what to do because the worst thing that someone can say is, “S/he was really professional.” This may also translate as “boring” for some to just be considered “professional”, but the effort is more difficult to misinterpret. While you’re being yourself, keep in mind that what other brands or competitors are usually striving to show is their best self. And that’s the same self you should show online, too.

The above tips will assist with your media interactions and your social media interactions in general. What other tips do you have? Anything to add? Need some more helpful hints? Don’t hesitate to reach out.

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