Media Lists: The Love-Hate Relationship

Tips and tricks for making the most of your media lists

By Erin Hartwig
The Hoffman Agency, San Jose

Media lists.

Arguably the two most dreaded words to any public relations professional. Though while we can all agree that media lists are definitely a love-hate relationship, that doesn’t mean we don’t see the value in them.

Sure, it can be tedious trudging through databases like CisionPoint, or endlessly searching related articles reporters have previously written. But there is no greater feeling than going out with pitches the morning of announcement or launch and having (almost) all your targets come back and say:

Yes. I’d love to set up a call with [insert client name here].

After reading my colleague’s blog on practicing slow PR, it got me thinking. As important as it is to write a well-crafted pitch, it is just as important to build out the right media list. You want make sure that pitch isn’t falling on deaf ears and is falling into the right inbox.

So before you silently groan and roll your eyes, next time you’re assigned media lists, try out a few of these tips that make building out a list a bit easier:

The Techmeme Leaderboard is your friend.

These are the publications your clients know and want. These are also the publications that people are reading. In Silicon Valley and in the tech world, they are the go-to sources of information. Looking for a relevant reporter at that publication? Go to the site and search the keywords that are in line with your client’s messaging.

Unfortunately, some website’s search functions aren’t that stellar. If that’s the case, harness the power of Google. Outside of doing Google News searches, try doing a site search. Go to Google.com and type in the website address followed by the keywords you’re looking to find. For example:

www.nytimes.com “Sony email hack”

This will only show articles from the New York Times covering the Sony email hack.

Don’t forget about Bing.

Sometimes Bing will surprise you. Perform the exact same news search you did on Google, and I bet a few more articles will pop up that might have slipped through the cracks.

Never underestimate the power of social media.

Reporters are constantly tweeting about career moves and beat changes— usually well before whatever database you’re using catches it. Some reporters are even saying that they’d opt for a direct message on Twitter over an email. I’ve also found my fair share of email addresses written right there in Twitter bios, which leads me to my next tip…

You can always find an email address.

Just because it’s not listed in a database doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. If the database fails me, my go-to method is to first check Twitter. If it’s not in their profile, a reporter typically lists their personal website (if they have one). Continuing to follow the trail, their website usually leads me to their portfolio or resume of some sorts where I’m able to find it. And if that doesn’t work, ask around the office to see if one of your colleagues has been fortunate enough to dig it up.

Bet you didn’t think that when you accepted your first job in PR, you would also be accepting a job in Internet sleuthing.

So there you have it – practice slow PR to craft the perfectly personalized pitch, build out  highly targeted media lists and you’re on your way to some great media hits.

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