An accurate, well-considered media list is the backbone of any effective media relations strategy. It may seem like a list of countless emails equates to countless opportunities, but quantity does not equal quality. After a communications team has developed their pitch and a plan, consideration of these tips is critical when building or refining that most prized piece of public relations life, the media list:
- Know your audience: As a team becomes more connected to a project or client, they may have big aspirations when it comes to target publications. It is good to have a few “reach” publications, but only if it fits with the direction of the story and the goals of the initiative. Consider the power of local newspapers and broadcast stations in relevant locations or online blogs with direct reach to your target audience. In the world of B2B media, often a well-earned trade media placement can be worth several splashy, front-page headlines in reaching your target audience. It may take a little more research, but careful refinement of your media list will allow for exposure in areas where it matters most.
- Know who speaks to your audience: The PR professional who pitches journalists they haven’t researched is the PR professional who often falls short. Research your topic and those who cover it. Reporters have beats or priority topics they look for. For example, a publication may have a finance reporter, a business reporter and a real estate reporter. All three might have some crossover, but there is a clear topic of interest each focuses on. Engaging with the correct reporters will increase your chance of success, helps cultivate a well-informed relationship for future efforts and cuts down on wasted time and effort.
- Stay on track: With so many resources available to access contact information, many of us have fallen victim to the research rabbit hole. Establishing a plan with an identified audience will guide the research. Share your list with colleagues and ask them to help you stress test it to ensure it will be the foundation of a meaningful outreach effort.
- Keep it updated: After the initial outreach, there is a good chance some messages will bounce back. Newsrooms change with increasing frequency and often commercial databases do not have the most up to date information. Make sure the bounced back emails are replaced with viable options at that outlet. It’s important to also find out where the original journalist you tried to reach moved on to. He or she may still be a good fit for your story. Finally, you can, and should, update your list based on the feedback and responses you receive.
Building a quality media list allows communications professionals to focus on the real reason the list is being made in the first place: Engaging with the media. Cultivating a well-researched, targeted list will help drive your story and reach your audience, positioning your client or company where it will make an important difference.