- A good media list combines your research abilities with time-saving technology to create a perfectly targeted list of people who are likely to be interested in your client. Quality over quantity is key here. The more targeted your media list, the more effective it is. The last thing you should do is send your press release to a journalist that doesn’t cover its subject matter.
- A good media list takes time to build. This requires making phone calls to reporters, sending them emails and even paying visits to their offices to ensure that they are the relevant individuals to correspond with. Attending events where the media are present is also very helpful, as this enables face-to-face meetings where you can obtain contact details and build on relationships.
- Constantly update your media list – this should be done on a quarterly basis. Reporters move to different publications, change specialty, or simply go on to other things. Often this happens without them informing their contacts, even when they continue to receive what is now ‘irrelevant’ material for them.
- Read! Set aside two hours each week to go through newspapers and magazines. Make notes of the articles and columns that pertain to your clients and familiarise yourself with the tone of the various publications.
- Take opportunities to get to know your contacts away from work. This can lead to the development of genuine friendships that will be fruitful for both parties in both work and in non-work related matters.
- Don’t overlook freelancers. They are becoming more the norm for websites and print outlets. Many publications rely on them to fill up column inches.
If you can answer the following six questions relating to your dealings with journalists, then you’re on the right track:
- Are they an appropriate contact for my press release or pitch?
If not, you need to establish which of their colleagues is a better contact.
- What is the best time of the day to reach out to them?
Sometimes, sending a press release early in the day might not be the best thing to do, as by the time the reporter reaches their desk, your email will be at the bottom of their in-box. Some media representatives work during the weekend and take time off during the week – this information is also handy to know.
- What are their recurring deadlines?
It is best not to contact journalists or send them anything close to their deadlines, as they will be busy closing their pages and won’t have to time to entertain your requests. It is important to establish the recurring deadlines of any reporter on your media list so that you avoid sending them material on or close to this date.
- What are the major topics and issues they are currently interested in?
Knowing a journalist’s special areas of interest within their sphere of reporting can help when pitching a particular story, as it shows that you on the same wavelength as them. You will increase the chance of your piece being taken up if you can demonstrate that you are tuned into their niche concerns.
- Have any of my colleagues worked with them before?
Obtaining insight from your co-workers will definitely help you in breaking the ice quickly with the journalists. It can assist you in getting to know their habits, which will in turn make it easier to communicate with them.
- Are they on LinkedIn or Twitter?
You can get to know a great deal about a person from their social media pages. Through LinkedIn and Twitter you can develop an insight into the journalist’s preferences, their mind-set and their ideology.