Twitter Interview Requests: Top 10 Rules to Follow

In my previous post, I touched on a Twitter trend sweeping the nation: the tweeted interview request. Brief, public, and sometimes grammatically challenged, these messages are seemingly catching on among evermore student journalists who are searching for a lot of sources in a short amount of time with little-to-no legwork.

Is it a positive or negative for collegemediatopia? I’m personally not against what I’m calling the TCO (the tweeted cold open).  But I do feel it should be used sparingly and follow some basic rules of net etiquette.  Below is my top 10 list of rules for Twitter interview requests.

1) Whenever possible, use Twitter as a search engine for sources, not the first point of contact.  Use the information gleaned from a person’s tweets or Twitter profile to click on a personal website or blog– or follow-up with a search on Google or Facebook to get an actual e-mail address.

2) If you’re going the Tweet intro route, take a moment to actually look at a person’s Twitter page.  How many users does the person have?  How many tweets has she posted?  When was the last post?  Also, search the mass public feed for the user’s Twitter name.  How many people communicate directly with her?  How often does she engage in back-and-forths with people publicly?  These will all be indicators of how worthwhile or fruitless a tweet as first-point-of-contact will be.

If the person is Mrs. Twitter, living life out loud 140 characters at a time, then, yes, a tweeted interview request might make sense.  If you’ve stumbled onto an LT (light tweeter) or an ANET (almost non-existent tweeter), it’s probably best to go old school (by 2011 standards) and send an e-mail.

3) At the very least, within your request tweet, include the reason you are writing.  The most maddening tweets of this type read simply, “Hi, I’m a student journalist working on a story.  Can I interview you real quick?  Thnx.”  You must attempt to even marginally answer the two questions every interviewee asks once contacted by the press: Why me? And, what for?

4) Be professional.  Spell everything correctly.  Use proper grammar.  Avoid even the most common acronyms or text-speak (i.e. u wanna tlk @ 6 tnite?).  Use titles (Mrs. Weasley, Professor Bieber), not first names.

5) Include an e-mail address.  Don’t force people to respond to you publicly or on a platform they might not be able to sufficiently access on their mobile phone.

6) Also, include a link that provides a quick-hit overview of you, such as your blog’s About Me page.  Make it incredibly easy for the person to find out more about you.

7) Use some tact.  If you send out a bevy of carbon copy public interview requests, it will be hard for anyone but the glory-hogs to feel like they’re pivotal to your project and that you are worth their time.  (See example below.  The opening message at the very bottom says it all.)

8) Be aware of what your tweets say about you.  Step 1) You tweet an interview request to a stranger.  Step 2) The stranger clicks onto your Twitter profile and scans your recent tweets.  If these tweets are lame or vulgar or mostly personal– or if you barely have any tweets at all– your interview hopes will probably be dashed. #fml

9) Whenever you can, send a direct message tweet.  It’s quick, painless, and, most important, private.

10) Keep your Twitter feed public! If you hide your tweets, your credibility has the shelf life of a person’s mouse clicking on your profile name.

This one happened to me.  A person tweeted me for an interview about students and new media, I believe for a master’s thesis.  Being kind and curious (i.e. attention-hungry), I clicked on the guy’s profile.  It proclaimed, “This person has protected their tweets.”  My initial thoughts: 1) That’s the way to be!  Make it TOUGHER for me to find out who the heck you are.  2) You’re writing about new media??  3) Are you secretly a superhero?  See below for a smattering of others’ frustrations with the “protected” feed.

8 Responses to “Twitter Interview Requests: Top 10 Rules to Follow”
  1. Bryan Murley says:

    Have none of these people heard of Direct Messages?

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