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

Dittoe PR client announces monumental acquisition

Plastic straws.

 

They’re small, convenient, inexpensive and seemingly harmless. Their use has been widespread amongst restaurants, retailers, consumers and businesses alike for several decades. However, this modern-day convenience also comes at a high price.

 

Plastic straws not only contribute to our rising plastic pollution crisis, but they’re unavoidably harmful to the environment, as they’re too lightweight to make it through the mechanical recycling sorter. Shockingly enough, Americans use more than 500 million plastic straws each day.

 

Enter Aardvark Straws.

 

Introduced in 2007 in response to the growing anti-plastic movement, Aardvark Straws offer an environmentally friendly alternative to plastic straws with their durable, FDA-compliant, marine degradable paper straws. They’re produced in more than 200+ customizable designs, making Aardvark Straws ideal for a large range of uses, including restaurants, weddings, holidays and more.

 

However, as the anti-plastic movement grew, so did the anti-plastic straw movement. People became increasingly aware of the dangers of plastic straws. Following the hard work of many activists and organizational groups, others began to take notice. Cities began to ban plastic straws, then major corporations did, too. Some of the world’s biggest brands, such as Starbucks, American Airlines and Hilton, all pledged to remove plastic straws from their companies.

 

As the movement grew, so did Aardvark. As the sole U.S. producer of paper straws, Aardvark was soon selling billions of paper straws to restaurants and establishments all across the globe. Business accelerated quickly, which led Aardvark to start thinking about what was next for the company.

 

With plastic straw bans occurring worldwide and the paper straw market on the rise, Wisconsin-based Hoffmaster Group saw an opportunity to capitalize on the rapidly accelerating demand for alternatives to plastic. Hoffmaster acquired Aardvark in August 2018. They invested in the brand because they believe in paper straws as a product solution and saw Aardvark as a natural extension of Hoffmaster’s premium portfolio of environmentally responsible, disposable tabletop products. Through the acquisition, Hoffmaster hopes to protect the environment and marine life, as well as to ramp up production in order to supply top grade paper straws to the marketplace.

 

As a longstanding client, Dittoe PR jumped on the opportunity to lead media relations efforts for Aardvark’s exciting announcement. We shared the news with local, regional and national media, which resulted in media hits in several major media outlets including Fortune, USA Today, CNNMoney, MarketWatch, Inc. and live TV interviews on CNBC and Fox Business News.

 

In addition to careful research and personalized pitching that led to such great media results, we also assisted with the thorough development of messaging for the acquisition. From messaging documents to customer questions to media interview prep sheets, it’s important when making such a major announcement that all messaging is consistent and accurate.

 

Ultimately, Dittoe PR was able to generate 240 media hits garnering 167,100,363 media impressions and a total publicity value of $1,917,878! We were overjoyed with the outcome of this campaign and are looking forward to continuing to lead Aardvark’s PR initiatives in the future.

Tweets: Not Fit for PR Pro Consumption

Our team recently had the opportunity to host a few students from the Beth Wood Chapter of PRSSA at Indiana University who somehow mustered the energy to get out of bed early on a Friday morning to slog their way from Bloomington to Indianapolis for an agency tour of Dittoe Public Relations. For those of you who haven’t been to college for a while (or if you’re memory is, let’s just say, hazy), Friday morning promptly follows “Thirsty Thursday;” so we were impressed, nay, honored by their willingness to visit us.

During a pre-tour conversation, we mentioned that an insatiable thirst to consume information—reading national and local media outlets, trade publications, blogs, etc.—was one of the most important, and perhaps most overlooked characteristics of a good PR pro. When we asked these budding PR practitioners what media outlets they consumed regularly, their responses caught me a bit off-guard. Nearly every one of them named Twitter as one of their top sources for media consumption.

Now, before I launch into my rant, I’d like to preface it by noting that like everyone else on the planet, I recognize the power of Twitter and the positive impact it has made on media and society as a whole. It’s also an invaluable tool for PR pros; not only for engaging with reporters, but for engaging with publics. But it should NEVER be considered a top source for consuming media. By anybody. Ever.

Can Twitter break big stories? Yes. It was widely reported that news of Osama bin Laden’s death broke on Twitter and that Whitney Houston’s death hit Twitter 27 minutes before the press. But how many times has Bill Cosby been reported dead on Twitter? After one particularly viral episode of Cosby’s demise (there have been several), TV’s Dr. Huxtable went so far as to call in to “Larry King Live” to echo Mark Twain’s famous sentiments regarding the reports of his death. This is an admittedly silly example of how Twitter “news” is propagated, but it’s a solid representation of Twitter’s validity, or lack of validity as a reliable source of information.

I realize I’m not breaking any new ground by chalking Twitter up as a dubious source of information, and that the vast majority of people know to seek information from other outlets; but knowing and doing are quite different. Today, it’s estimated that you’re likely to spend more than 11 hours consuming information—reading blog posts like this, watching TV, flipping through a magazine, or grazing on your Twitter feed. If you sit in front of a computer screen for most of your day, you’re probably spending even more than 11 hours a day. But if you’re spending the majority of your time on Twitter, you’re not getting the full story.

What does this mean for our PRSSA friends from Bloomington and soon-to-be PR pros everywhere? I’d urge you to take advantage of the staggering amount of information that’s readily available. According to storage company EMC, there is presently 800,000 petabytes (a million gigabytes per petabyte) in the storage universe, and according to the University of California in San Diego, American homes consume nearly 3.6 zettabytes (a million petabytes per zettabyte) of information per day.

Read as much as you can from varying sources. When you enter the PR world, the only way you’re going to be good at what you do is by immersing yourself in your clients’ industries so I can spot trends before they do and recommend strategies that will allow them to stay ahead of the curve. You can’t do that if you’re only consuming information in 140-character nibbles; especially if those few characters are wildly inaccurate. Just ask the aforementioned purveyor of pudding pops.

What do you think? Is Twitter a legitimate source for news? Or is it just a starting point that can tip you off to story so you can investigate further?