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 firstname.lastname@example.org