The headline today in Ragan’s PR Daily reads, “Study: LinkedIn top social media site for journalists.”

So, at first blush, it might be tempting to fire off that next news release straight through LinkedIn to your target list of media members. And while that may well be the eventual path you take, it behooves you to embark first on a few intermediate steps.

The first one: confirm that the reporter is open to receiving the release in the first place. This is akin to permission marketing.

Once a reporter has given the OK (often, it will be accomplanied by another email address where you can send the release), then you’ve got an exponentially greater chance of actually having the release reviewed, responded to and, yes, pursued.

I’ve found LinkedIn and Facebook to be helpful avenues to connect with some members of the media, sometimes as an initial step and other times as a follow-up. Another rapidly emerging platform is Twitter, where you can quickly size up a journalist’s beat, style and other preferences so that you can connect relevantly.

Regardless of the setting where you make the connection, the foundational key is to have already established that connection with the individual in question.

As for the best time to establish contact, the answers is the same for when you’re looking to buy a car or make any other kind of transaction: when you don’t have to do it–when you’re not “under the gun” to get results.

So, off-deadline, it’s worth your while to scan LinkedIn for those media contacts with whom you’ve already established a relationship and solidify it by Linking In. In addition, explore making other connections with those whom you’ve not yet “met” online.

Just don’t be a dork about it–for one thing, in your invitation, be sure to take a few moments to personalize it and explain the mutual benefit that you foresee in creating any LinkedIn relationship. What’s in it for him or her?

For other posts about effectively navigating social-media portals like Facebook and LinkedIn, check out these “Tips From the Inside Edge” ditties.

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