PR Intern’s Guide to the Galaxy: Making Relevant Media Lists

Media lists can be considered the secret weapon of the PR pro. While they’re a relatively simple tool, they’re arguably the most important to PR success. Without an updated, accurate and beat-tailored media list — sucess is hard to come by. Your reputation as a PR practitioner can also be tarnished if you constantly are pitching the wrong media contacts (you might also find your misguided email screenshotted on Twitter under #PRFails).

Media lists are used to:

  1. Secure media coverage for your client
  2. Reach a target audience
  3. Keep a history of dialogue between your client and a reporter to ensure pitches/conversations are more useful for both parties

Audience – The first thing to consider when building a media list is your client’s target audience, this will help you determine the types of publications that need to be included based on their readership. It’s also important to identify the coverage of your clients competitors. It is likely that media covering your client’s competitors will be interested in covering your client as well. A well rounded media list will include trade reporters, reporters from vertical outlets (government, healthcare, retail, etc.) and bloggers.

Keywords – When searching for the right media to include, it is crucial that you search the right keywords. In some cases, it is easy to only include the phrases categorizing your clients technology, but only if it is unique enough that your search results will bring back specific, relevant coverage. It is rarely that easy. More likely, there are instances where your client’s keywords are very generic and search results for the technology classification alone will bring back irrelevant results. Other keywords include the name of your clients competitors.

Tools – The tools most commonly used when searching for media are Google, Cision, Meltwater, IT Database. You will want to use these tools to search multiple combinations of your clients keywords as well as your clients previous coverage, and competitors previous coverage. Once you find the coverage, you will need to organize the information and create your media list using Excel.

Organize – Media lists can sometimes get very long but no matter the size, keep them organized! This ensures that you will be able to find the right contact, the first time, every time. Begin by opening an excel sheet and in the first row, place a filter on publication, first name, last name, title, email, phone number, twitter handle and a link to the reporters most relevant/timely story. Under each column, you will either fill in the information by hand or copy and paste it in from an Excel sheet generated by one of your previously used tools. Once you have all of the information filled in, check for duplicates and fill in anything that might be missing. Finding this missing information consists of research and can sometimes be time consuming.

Update – Keeping an updated media list is important, because there are many reporters who move from one publication to another and sometimes, a media contact will even change the topic that they report on, known as their beat. When you have a media list that is up to date and accurate, you avoid situations where reporters get frustrated with you because you mistakenly pitch them a story that they aren’t covering. Reporters are easier to work with if they know that you are paying attention to their current beat and reading their most current stories. Pitching the wrong media is a waste of their time, yours and the client’s.  

 

By Kory Buckley

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