How to Build A Successful Media List to Generate Coverage

The biggest part of our job is earning media coverage for our clients, which is done by pitching stories and developing relationships with journalists. Doing this effectively requires a strong media list, which is one of the key components to successful PR.

 

Now, you may be wondering, what is a media list? Simply put, it’s a compilation of reporters organized for the sole purpose of pitching them story ideas on behalf of your client. It’s highly organized and updated frequently to accommodate today’s fast-paced, ever-changing journalism landscape. It’s also customized per story idea.

 

If this sounds like a ton of work, it is. But that’s what makes our job so rewarding. And there are a ton of tools and tricks that help build excellent media lists. But if you’re still unsure of how to put one together, follow these steps.

 

Step 1: Determine Target Audience.

In order to determine the best reporters and publications to add to a media list, first determine target audiences, which should correlate with a client’s key customers. For instance, let’s say a client sells audio products such as headphones, soundbars and home theater systems. As a PR agency, the goal will be to educate tech-savvy individuals about the client’s products in the consumer electronic space. Therefore, the media list should reflect reporters who cover this beat for media outlets frequently read by this demographic. If the client has multiple audiences, make sure to build a media list for each one.

 

Step 2: Create a list of ideal outlets.

Once target audiences are determined, create a list of outlets that are a natural fit to cover your client’s story. This will also need to reflect the client’s PR goals.

 

So, if a global tech company is seeking national media coverage, the media list may include outlets such as Fast Company, Wired, Inc., Forbes and USA Today. But, if a client is seeking local coverage to help promote a local event in Chicago, outlets may include the Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times, The Red Eye and Crain’s Chicago Business, among others.

 

When creating this list, consider the outlet’s key readers. This can be accomplished by identifying its age group, gender or median income, among other key characteristics. Many times, these insights will be found in an outlet’s media kit. This will help ensure the outlet’s key readers are parallel with the client’s target audience.

 

Step 3: Find contacts.

Once those outlets have been determined, it’s time to do our homework and find the right contacts. During this portion, follow these tips:

 

  • Review previous stories to understand how frequently the writer pushes out new articles.
  • Learn about the writer’s interests to build a deeper connection through their bio page, LinkedIn or social media. For instance, when pitching a new product for our client LIDS, we take the time to understand if the writer has an allegiance to a specific team, so we can pitch them relevant products.
  • Be thoughtful about what topics writers cover in their stories. In some cases, people who write about the “technology industry” may not review “consumer electronics,” and “health care” writers don’t necessarily cover “health and medicine.”
  • Take time to consider each writer’s role. Editors-in-chief, for instance, are primarily responsible for the business-side of an outlet, like selecting content rather than creating it. Editorial assistants or staff writers, however, are usually looking for unique new stories and ideas.
  • When faced with multiple people at one publication, select only one or two for the first iteration of the list. If everyone has a similar title and seemingly covers the same topic, review past stories for each contact and narrow down from there.

 

Step 4: Conduct additional research.

Once those contacts are determined, pinpoint key words and conduct additional research to find contacts that may be a fit based on relevant stories that populate in Google News. For example, if you’re pitching a new parenting app that you want reporters to check out, search “apps for parents” or “parenting tech” in Google to see what type of writers are covering something similar to help build out your media list even further. In addition, conduct research to find media contacts who have covered the client in the past, written about the client’s competitors, and/or recently covered a trending news topics relevant to the client. This may help build out additional pitching angles.

 

 Step 5: Find contact information.

Depending on the media vertical, the contact information for the reporter may be easy to find and readily available on their designated bio page or in the “About Us” section on the outlet’s website. This is more accurate for newspapers or smaller publications. Other times, it may be harder to find. Media databases such as Cision and Meltwater are helpful tools to find contact information for journalists at hundreds of thousands of media outlets.

 

Step 6: Organize contacts.

Once research has been completed to find the right publications and reporters, organize and track the information so you can refer back it to at later time. Since the majority of our efforts are conducted through personalized outreach rather than blasted out through a media database, many of us organize them through Google Docs so they’re always accessible, easy to share with peers, and can be updated in real-time. Use columns and rows to track reporter name, job title, email address, phone number, Twitter handle, bio page and other important information.

 

Step 7: Keep media list up-to-date.

Once the list is built, the work is far from over. The media list will need to be updated regularly so you can stay on top of any role changes that could affect future pitching efforts. In addition, make sure to monitor the beats and job titles of any reporters on media lists, in case they change.

 

While these tips may be helpful, enlisting the help of a PR agency such as Dittoe PR is the surefire way to ensure PR goals are met. If you’re interested in learning more about Dittoe PR, contact Lauryn Gray at lauryn@dittoepr.com

PR Lingo 101: Phrases Every Pro Should Know

B-roll. Byline. Ed Cals. Embargo. Owned media. Press release. UMV.

 

If you’re a PR professional or work with media, you probably use some or all of these terms on a regular basis. We throw these phrases around with each other in the office, but we have to be mindful when speaking with a client or someone who’s not as familiar with public relations (like our friends or family). Heck, there were even some terms I had never heard of before starting my career at Dittoe PR (ed cals, anyone?).

 

Whether it’s an acronym, slang or just a word you’ve never heard of, we PR pros definitely have a language of our own. To help catch you up to speed, below we’ve started a modest list of terms and phrases we use daily. Sprinkle some of this lingo into a conversation with us, and we’ll know you’re a pro (or just someone who has done their homework).

 

PR: Let’s start with the basics – PR stands for “public relations.” My fiancé always gets upset with me when I throw this phrase around, because “not everyone knows what PR stands for.” I definitely try to be mindful when I’m introducing myself and my company for the first time, making sure I say “Dittoe Public Relations” and not just Dittoe PR. While it may be a no-brainer to those in our industry, those outside of our world might not be as sure.

 

Boilerplate: Think of a boilerplate as an “About Me” section. This is a chance to share the most pertinent information about your company. Typically located at the bottom of a press release, a boilerplate usually includes a few sentences about a company that gives the audience an understanding of its history, core services and mission. Including other milestones or industry recognition (like award wins) is acceptable, too.

 

B-roll: We often tell reporters that they can “capture b-roll” when they come out to an event, or that there will be “great b-roll opportunities.” Basically, this just means that there will be a chance for reporters to capture extra footage to go along with their story. B-roll can help make a segment more visually pleasing, just so you’re not watching a talking head the whole time. Know when you watch a TV segment and you see all those fancy camera angles? Yeah, that’s b-roll.

 

Byline: A byline is a fancy term we use for a guest article, contributed article, op-ed, etc. A byline can often serve as an alternative to a traditional interview-to-story coverage and gives media outlets quality content to add to their queue. Bylines are typically authored by a “thought leader” (there’s another term for ya) at a company about a topic in their industry in which they are considered an expert in. Bylines are our best friends, but they can also be our worst enemies (PR pros – you understand).

 

Embargo: I feel like a secret agent when I’m working with an embargo. Embargos are fun, but they require a lot of trust in the process. Embargos are used when you have a story or an announcement to make, but don’t want media to share it until X day or X time. They can definitely work in your favor, allowing reporters to gather all the information and interviews they need before the news is shared with the public. If you want, you can even give a reporter an “exclusive” (so many PR terms, so little time), but embargos allow every reporter the same fair chance. Once an embargo is “lifted,” that allows a reporter to hit the publish button. It’s really cool to see that embargo lift and have a flood of stories come in all at once.

 

Ed Cal: Sweet, sweet ed cals. For someone who was completely new in the industry at one point (ahem, moi), I had no idea what this stood for. Are you ready for it? Editorial calendar. Great. But now you’re probably thinking, what’s an editorial calendar? Think of editorial calendars as a way for publications to map out their calendar year. Typically aimed toward advertisers, ed cals help us figure out what a publication might be writing about on any given week, month or quarter. If I see that a magazine is planning to write about how to properly dispose of hazardous waste in October, I might reach out in June saying that I have the perfect source for their article. Thank you, ed cals.

 

In-house: The exact opposite of a PR agency. When companies do things “in-house,” that means they don’t have a third party helping them. Most of the clients we work with don’t have an in-house PR team, hence why they work with us. In the PR world, people will usually ask if you work in-house or at an agency. Working in-house is very different than working in an agency, and vice versa. But PR is PR, and we love ‘em all.

 

Pitch: Pitching is at the heart of what we do every day. Probably a little more self-explanatory than most, a pitch is just that – we are “pitching” an idea or story to a reporter, hoping that they’ll find interest and share with their audience. Think of a business pitch – you’re usually trying to sell yourself or your company during a pitch. We do the same in our pitching. But at Dittoe PR, we do things a little differently. We take the time to craft unique, meaningful pitches that are personalized to each media outlet or contact. We specialize in telling stories not selling products or services. We also take the time to research who we’re pitching, which helps us craft our pitch even more.

 

Trade publication: You can probably easily name top national media (CNN, Forbes, Mashable and so on), and you can probably name some local publications, too. But when it comes to trade … that’s usually a different story. Trade publications are targeted to a specific industry or audience that work in that industry. The general public typically doesn’t read these types of publications (unless reading Chemical Processing gets you jazzed) but landing an interview with a trade publication might be the perfect fit for your client’s audience.

 

UMV: I’ll give it to ya straight – UMV stands for unique monthly visitors. A UMV references how many individual people are visiting a website each month. Every website as a different UMV, and it often changes month-to-month. UMVs are important in our industry, as it helps us illustrate the value behind media coverage and, in some case, calculate advertising value (how much it would have cost you to pay to be in that publication). We also use terms like “readership” and “media impressions” to track and analyze media metrics (I could write a novel at this point with how many terms I’m throwing at you!).

 

Well, there you have it! While this list doesn’t come close to touching all the jargon we use regularly, I hope this is a good start. If any of the above sparks your interest or you think there’s a service your business could benefit from, contact Lauryn Gray at lauryn@dittoepr.com.