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

Interview Prep Sheets: Turn a good interview into a great one

While Dittoe PR offers an array of different services for clients, our bread and butter is media relations. We’re constantly working with reporters to secure media opportunities for our clients. Since we believe no two clients are alike, that also means every client interview is as important as the next. Whether it’s a small startup or a Fortune 500 company, we have found that the value of an interview prep sheet can help turn a good interview into a great one.

 

So, you’re ready to draft an interview prep sheet – now what?

 

The following items are must-haves when developing a prep sheet:

 

  • Date/time: Arguably the most important thing to include. Place this at the very top of your prep sheet, and possibly two or three more times throughout the prep sheet.

 

  • Address/call info: If the interview is taking place offsite, include the address of the location. Hyperlink the address to Google Maps, that way all the interviewee has to do to is click the link and pull up directions. If the interview is taking place over the phone, include the conference line or direct line information.

 

  • Background/opportunity: Include background information about how this opportunity was secured. Reiterate the name of the outlet, the reporter’s name and what he/she is interested in talking about.

 

  • Interview topics: List out topics the interviewee should be prepared to talk about. This information can be pretty generalized, but it gives your client a better idea on what he or she will be talking about during the interview.

 

Depending on the type of client and/or interview, you can add additional information to your prep sheet. Say the interview is with the CEO of the company and not your day-to-day contact – the CEO may want or need more information to help prepare for the interview, especially if it’s with a top-tier, national outlet. If you’re going the extra mile, these items are good to include in your prep sheet:

 

  • Type of interview: Is this a phone or in-person interview? A live or taped TV segment? Including this simple information can help your client mentally prepare for the type of interview.

 

  • Length of interview: Including the estimated length of the interview can help the interviewee plan out the rest of his or her day. It can also help interviewees map out what they are going to say and make sure they have enough content to talk about.

 

  • Reporter’s name: It’s good for the interviewee to have some background info on the interviewer. Along with including the reporter’s name, include a link to his or her bio page or Twitter. Take it a step further by including recent stories written by that reporter, too.

 

  • Potential questions/key messages: This section can be extremely beneficial. While reporters rarely share their interview questions, it’s good to include what you think could be potential questions the reporter could ask. Including key messaging can help craft answers for the potential questions, too.

 

  • Media training tips: We typically include this section for clients that may not have extensive media experience. For example, we use district sales managers at retailers across the country for local TV segments. This may be the only time a district sales manager participates in a media interview, so they may need more guidance than our day-to-day contacts. By including this section in a prep sheet, we provide a quick rundown of what to expect during the interview. We provide tips on how to dress, how to get messaging across, and how to be mindful of body language. This helps in-person interviews be more fluid and natural.

 

  • What to bring: This portion is only needed if a client is bringing something to an in-person interview. If it’s a TV segment, it’s important to have visuals for the interview. List out the items that the client needs to bring, or list out suggested options.

 

Preparing your client with the right tools and information in an interview prep sheet can make a world of difference when it comes to an interview with the media. Think your business could benefit from media relations? Contact Lauryn Gray at lauryn@dittoepr.com or request a consultation today.

Six ways PR professionals can (and should) ‘think like a journalist’

As a young kid, I felt I was destined to be a journalist. I wrote family newsletters and questionable short stories. I scored the editor-in-chief spot on the high school newspaper staff and eventually made my way to the college newsroom. But my career led me elsewhere, and I’ve spent nearly a decade working on the “dark side” of the media, as some (unfortunately) say.

 

While I may not be reporting or a big-time magazine editor, working with media is one of the primary responsibilities of my job. And, the truth is that media jobs and PR jobs are far more similar than we’re led to believe. From crafting captivating story ideas and writing compelling content to interviewing sources and maintaining a strong social media presence, the core skills of a journalist translate well onto the PR side of tracks (and vice versa).

So, let’s explore how basic journalistic practices apply to public relations.

 

Here are six ways we can “think like journalists” in our day-to-day roles as PR professionals:

 

Avoid selling and start (story)telling.

Journalists are quick to dismiss stories that seem too sales-y, and rightfully so. Similarly, as PR professionals, our first goal is storytelling, not selling. Sure, we need to include facts and figures, the “5 W’s,” and so on; however, these are just the building blocks and baselines to our content.

 

As storytellers, we must paint a picture, stir emotion and change behavior through words. Include extra details that weave in the five senses: sight, sound, taste, touch and smell. How many people were at the event? What did the chef’s award-winning dish really taste like? What sights and sounds overtook the banquet hall at the convention?

 

Help the audience visualize. The best content is rich with details that will hook readers and give them more than just a compilation of facts and quotes.

 

Know what’s newsworthy.

Generally, there are five key elements to newsworthiness: timing, significance, proximity, prominence and human interest. These apply across all kinds of content, not just media stories.

 

Is there a timely element? What does the article do for your audience? Is the topic close enough (geographically or otherwise) to your readers to pique interest? Why should people care? And, how does the story appeal to the audience’s emotions?

 

If you don’t know the answer to any of those questions, you’re not ready to tell the story.

 

Understand your audience.

Who are your customers? Who are your clients? And, who are the ideal readers of the story you’re hoping to tell? Be it a media hit, customer case study, blog post or e-newsletter, you must always know your audience and why they will want to read what you have to say. Spend some time carefully defining who you want to reach and figuring out their interests and behaviors. Then, and only then, can you truly reach them.

 

Research and verify.

All good stories are based on facts, and citing data will build trust with audiences and reporters alike.

From writing a media pitch, a white paper or a thought leadership article to compiling a media list or competitive analysis, research is always the first and most important step.

 

Who are your sources? Is there a study that supports your claim? What is the reporter’s beat? Is the reporter still writing for that outlet? What articles have already been written on the topic?

 

Ask yourself question after question until you’ve exhausted your options. Then, once you’ve compiled the information you need, review it, digest it and verify it. Double-check your facts and vet your sources.

 

We can’t be lazy. Someone will always know.

 

Strategically structure your writing.

There are a lot of facts, but there is only one story. As storytellers, journalists and PR pros must guide our audiences to the story. It’s our job to sift through piles of information and find the true purpose of the story. It’s also our job to tell it.

 

The most common method of writing structure is using the pyramid model. Your most important and most interesting content belongs at the very top of the pyramid. Since we only have mere seconds before our audience moves on, it makes sense to arrange writing from most important to least important, in case the reader jumps ship halfway through.

 

In addition to the order of our writing, PR pros can take another page from a journalist’s book by always thinking about campaigns and content in a broader sense. How can we take this one step further? Does this inspire a graphic or video? How many ways can we repurpose this to create more compelling content and reach more people? The sky can be the limit.

 

Mind the details.

Details matter and not just the details of the story (refer back to “Avoid selling and start (story)telling”). Just as journalists are expected to do, PR professionals are expected to heavily proofread their work. Names, titles, punctuation, dates, capitalization, attributions, AP Style… even formatting matters. It’s our job to be precise and represent not only ourselves well, but our clients well.

 

Journalism and storytelling are as old as mankind, and the basics of both are the same for us PR pros no matter the objective or the audience. By honing some journalism skills, you can craft stories and PR campaigns that resonate with the right people.

 

Can we help tell your story? Contact Lauryn Gray at lauryn@dittoepr.com to explore what Dittoe PR could do for you.