Creating a Powerful Media Database
As your personal and professional network grows, so do your reach, your influence and your opportunities. As a PR practitioner, you know that you need to have, in your grasp, a valuable list of your media contacts.
Your media database is a critical part of your business development toolkit and includes contacts in traditional and new media – people who can assist you in extending your reach and with whom you develop relationships over time so that when you have a media release ready about a new product, service or even a book, you have a community of people you can connect with. Think of it this way – if you were in public relations, your media database would be the life blood of your business.
Creating or building a media list gets you thinking about who will be receiving your news, and how you might shape your approach accordingly – to ensure that each editorial contact appreciates the value in covering it. Without a competent database of media contacts, the print media, news stations and social media are likely to stay well beyond your reach.
Published directories of media contacts can easily cost companies thousands of dollars, which is understandable, given how essential media lists are to a successful PR strategy. Fret not, before you mutter “budget constraints” and politely decline, find out how little financial cost is required to build a powerful and reliable media list that will keep you in good stead.
Customized and Well-Researched Lists
Emails from valuable editorial contacts are prone to getting lost in a cluttered inbox, not to mention how difficult it is to wade in there and come out unscathed. For starters, get organized by creating a comprehensive list of contacts from various media outlets.
Instead of firing emails at editorial staff away without giving it much thought, target your materials at the right journalist to increase your chances of getting coverage. Do your research by reading relevant magazines and newspapers whenever you can, to find out more about the profile and readership of each publication.
The key is to make your media lists as targeted as possible. It is essential, for your reputation with the media, that you send materials only to journalists who will find them relevant and useful.
Beyond Names and Numbers
Mere possession of media contact details is not sufficient to ensure that your story makes it to the front page. Supplement the information you retrieved by making the effort to know your media contacts inside out – what are the schedules of your media contacts like? When is the most appropriate time to place information in their hands? You may include such valuable information about each media contact in the form of a short remark in your media list.
The “remarks” section is one of the most important features of your media list spreadsheet. Has this editor ever expressed a preference for certain topics? Make a note and remember to refer to your media list if you fail to recall the next time you attempt to reach him or her. This will help you to communicate more effectively.
Excelling at Excel
It goes without saying that the employees responsible for creating media lists have to be meticulous about the inputting process. Avoid embarrassing typing blunders, especially since your employer and colleagues may need to use the same list in the future.
Practically everything important in the office ends up on an excel spreadsheet. The importance of knowing how to use this program well mustn’t be undermined. If you believe that you are already a competent Excel user with nothing much else to learn about the program, don’t trust yourself too quickly on that! Be persistent about upgrading your excel skills – employers around the world recognize the immense value of this.
Stay informed and connected
Stay abreast of media moves and find out if your editorial contacts are still based at the same companies as before. Don’t allow a well-constructed media list to become obsolete! Fighting to be at the forefront of important changes certainly requires dedication and hard work. Journalists get re-allocated to take on new assignments at an astonishing rate – look over your lists and update them diligently to avoid pitching to abandoned email addresses.
Google alerts: You want to keep track of any news breaking in your market. You also want to keep tabs on other speakers, authors, or businesses that are similar to yours so you can see where and when they are popping up. This will alert you to the various media (including online media, i.e. bloggers) who work in your particular area.
Networking: When you go to industry events, always be alert to the media attending so you can network with them. Some events may publish their attending media list or media supporting partners – if they don’t you can often spot media by their badge (many press passes have special colours on them so they are easy to spot). Be sure to attend evening functions, which is always a great place to identify new, potential media who may be interested in your pitch.
Building a media database is more than just creating a list – it’s about building long-term relationships with the media (both online and offline) that you can turn to again and again. Once you have this media list you’ll want to keep enhancing it. As your message and media database grows, these relationships can grow with you.
There’s no substitute for a mention in a popular blog, magazine, radio or TV show – you just have to be ready when opportunity knocks!