Early in my public relations career, I made the decision to start a private Twitter list of reporters that I was interested in because they covered topics relevant to my work.

This small decision took only a few minutes and has been a really helpful habit that I’ve kept up because it’s continually helping me build stronger relationships with reporters.

Quickly if you don’t know what Twitter lists are:

Twitter lists allow you to organize Twitter users into specific lists, both private and public, where when you go to that list you see the tweets of only those users (not everyone you’re following). When other users have created public lists, you can also find and follow those.

Why are Twitter lists helpful in PR?

A lot of reporters use Twitter and they use Twitter for work. They’ll tweet asking questions about stories they are working on or looking for resources.

If you are following reporters who write about topics you are relevant to, then it’s a great idea to be following them in case the opportunity comes up to be a helpful resource.

Now, if you use Twitter you probably follow quite a few people or Twitter’s algorithm may accurately guess that a thread of cat photos belongs at the top of your feed. So, instead of searching your feed hoping you’ll see when a reporter is looking for more information, you add them to a list and just check the list every now and again to see what pops up. It’s really simple and it can be used and tailored to so many different PR and marketing situations.

Who do I add to Twitter lists?

When I started creating Twitter lists I added every reporter I came across on Twitter. As you can imagine, that list quickly got out of control and wasn’t actually helpful to me.

Instead, I now curate lists based on my current needs. I’ll usually have about 10 reporters on a private list that I’m following.

A few scenarios where I’ll add them to the list:

  • I’m looking to create a warm relationship
  • They write about a topic relevant to Buffer so I’m following in case they need sources
  • I’m about to pitch them and I want to keep tabs on what they are up to

This can be really fluid. I recommend using lists while doing campaigns or specific pitches and switching them up. Try not to make them too big or else they’ll become irrelevant. Also, sometimes you add that one person who tweets one hundred times more often than anyone else. In that case, sometimes you have to remove them to make sure you’re seeing tweets from the other reporters.

Keeping my Twitter lists updated alongside my media list spreadsheet has been a really helpful tool just to keep on top of opportunities that reporters might be tweeting about and also helping me create better relationships because I understand their work and know what they’re looking for.

I highly recommend giving this completely free tactic a shot. Let me know how it goes for you!


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