6 Tips to Building the Perfect Media List
Crafting the perfect message is only one part of the PR process. Knowing who to say it to is just as, and in a lot of cases even more important than the content itself. You need the right message in front of the right person, at the right time – and that’s not always a guarantee. Here are some rules to follow when building your media list.
#1 – Don’t contact the advertising department for PR
Yes, you do have a contact at your local newspaper, so I can understand the logic of thinking that this is the person you want to approach with your news story or media request. But your advertising sales manager is not the right contact. They can certainly get you into the paper, but not in the context you want. It will cost you money and look like an ad – definitely not the same as PR.
#2 –Know the titles to look for
When it comes to newspaper, magazine or internet; a beat reporter, editor or managing editor would be the right place to start, and it needs to be of the topic or section you’re interested in contributing. The managing editor of the sports section will not be interested in what you have to say about market volatility. Conversely, a beat reporter on investing will likely not be interested in your story on retirement. Just because the contact falls in the financial realm does not guarantee that they are the right person to hear your story. Be well versed with the content they cover before reaching out with a story idea.
For radio or television; a producer, segment producer, booker, assignment editor, or content director are good places to start, but these types of media are interested in stories that have a broader consumer appeal. Keep that in mind when crafting your pitches.
#3 – Gather as much information as possible
There is some critical information you should gather if you’re building your media list from scratch; things like outlet overview, circulation, unique visitors or viewers, contact information and preferred method and social media or blog information. When we build a media list, we like to include as much information as possible about the contact. The goal is to get to know them and form a long-term, mutually beneficial relationship. Some of the information we like to capture includes:
- Media Outlet
- Outlet Overview
- Show/Segment/Editorial of Interest
- Media Contact
- Circulation / Unique Visitors / Viewers
- Preferred Communication Method
- Social Media / Blog
#4 – It’s ok to confirm that they are the right contact
When sending correspondence for the first time, it’s ok to ask if they’re the right contact for this type of information or if they recommend you send it to someone else on their team. Many reporters and media persons are open to helping you be effective with your outreach and in an effort to save their time (and yours!) may suggest an alternative to contact that would be a better fit.
#5 – Connect in the digital world
Make a virtual friend, follow their stories and become familiar with the stories they cover. Connect on LinkedIn and be sure to follow them on Twitter. If you’re active, engage through social media. Members of the media tend to utilize Twitter the most, making it one of the best ways to connect directly with them. Retweet, favorite and even comment on their stories in your feed. Be creative in letting them know you’re following their content and enjoy their work. Soon, they will begin to recognize your name, which could help increase the likelihood of them responding to your pitches.
#6 Continue to update and modify your list
As you start to become more familiar with the media, you’ll notice there tends to be a decent amount of turnover. It’s common for media members to bounce around between outlets as they continue to work their way up the totem pole, so it’s important to keep your list updated. If emails start bouncing back from a media person whom you have previously qualified, it is likely they left their job. Try reaching out to new contacts at the same outlet to find out the new best point of contact.
This also a good practice to maintain with media contacts that are non-responsive. If you’ve tried pitching them various content, and they still haven’t bitten, don’t waste your time badgering them. Once you create your media list, you shouldn’t consider it a “final draft,” but rather a working draft that you will continue to add contacts to and modify over time.