Oh, media lists. Such a key part of every PR professional’s toolkit, but how relevant in 2016?
With a number of media database providers such as Cision and Agility, you’d think media list building would be a breeze. But think again.
In today’s media landscape, reporters, editors and producers don’t always have beats and tend to use less specific titles. Plus, staff changes occur so often that it can be a full-time job keeping up.
All too often I find myself set to pitch a compelling story and once I get on the phone I’m told that reporter no longer works at the media outlet or no one covers that beat. This usually leads to a blind transfer to an available reporter, which can totally throw you off your game.
So, how do you make sure hours of research aren’t wasted? Let me share with you four of my go-to tips for saving time and building smarter media lists.
Don’t rely on the media database alone. Sure, media databases can help build a solid foundation and give you a starting point, but cross-reference those contacts with LinkedIn, Twitter and Google before finalizing. Doing this may even help you come across a few new contacts or freelancers to pitch.
Use Twitter. While this platform might be dying in the eyes of Gen Z, it’s still alive and well for many, including most journalists. Use this social platform to your advantage by adding reporters to a Twitter list. This can help you quickly identify who has moved where and what they currently cover.
Editors matter. A few years ago, media list best practices focused on digging deep to find the right contact in order to laser focus your pitch. Today, newsrooms are running much leaner, so it’s a necessity to include contacts with more general titles because there may only be a handful of people writing or producing for those outlets.
Always include the news desk. The news desk is a solid backup plan if you’re not having any luck reaching a producer or reporter. However, be prepared to be clear and succinct with your request. Anyone answering the news desk phone is likely juggling fifteen other things at that moment. You’ll find these contacts can play a key role in helping you secure your story and can often offer insider information about how to best reach a specific reporter or producer for a particular program or section of a media outlet.