As often as we’ve said that modern public relations work is more than just media relations, the fact remains that it is still very important—and, for many organizations, media efforts are a core part of PR strategy.
Developing deep personal relationships with reporters relevant to your industry is the ideal way to focus media relations efforts. It’s also time consuming, doesn’t scale, and sometimes it just isn’t feasible. Buying a media database list and sending press releases to everyone on the list in hopes that a few might run the release is a common but much-derided tactic of getting news out.
Somewhere in between those extremes is the thoughtfully curated list. You’ll get more out of a shorter list of well-researched media contacts than you will sending blast emails out, repeatedly, to a large list.
To a certain extent this message seems to be getting through to PR professionals. I am receiving far fewer clearly off-target email news releases than I did five years ago. There remains room for improvement, however. What I see now are individualized pitches requesting consideration for hosting guest posts on topics that are not remotely relevant to Media Bullseye’s audience.
Creating a functional media list
We’ve written here before on Media Bullseye about how to create a media list using a media monitoring tool, so I won’t go into the details of how to do so, but will highlight the benefits of using a clipping service tool to assist you with this task:
- Using a media monitoring tool allows you to quickly identify who is writing about your topics;
- It can help you zero in on what aspects of your issues are receiving positive, negative, or neutral attention, which can guide your pitches to individuals;
- By utilizing keyword searches, you will likely discover that your issues are being discussed in places that don’t make top-tier media outlet lists—and these niche blogs and publications might be the best targets for your coverage.
Once you’ve pulled together a targeted media list with contact information, make sure to add one additional column: one with a link to the blogger or journalist’s Twitter handle.
This one addition is key to two components of your media list—it’s a good way to build relationships with members of the media, and it’s one of the best ways to keep your media list current.
The media industry has been under significant pressure during the last decade. This means that even in an industry where job changes are frequent to begin with, layoffs, newsroom changes, digital challenges, and constantly shifting priorities, many journalists don’t seem to stay in one place for very long. And they always seem to announce their job changes on Twitter, so before sending a news release out to even a small list, check Twitter first to make certain the reporters on your list are still at the publications with which you originally associated them.
Ongoing maintenance is important
Media lists can be tedious to create and maintain, but keeping them current is imperative if you want to use your time wisely. Media databases serve a very specific function and are useful for large outreach projects, but for your most important contacts and sources your personally curated lists will always be a better resource.
Keeping that in mind, it pays to invest a little bit of time each month doing verification (that your contacts are still where you think they are) and maintenance (research and updating if there are changes). These are tasks that can easily be delegated to more junior staff—if that option is available to you.
The niche sources that are so beneficial to targeted efforts can change as frequently, it seems, as the journalists who switch jobs, and when they close or are consolidated into larger media groups they don’t always make big headlines. Revisiting your media list on a regular basis—not just when it’s needed to send a news release—means that you’ll learn about these changes and be able to adjust for them in your plans.