We’ve been working in public relations long enough to know that a media list is the ultimate arsenal for media outreach. Here are some rules we’ve set to help you transform your media list into your golden ticket to PR success:
- Know your end audience. Building a media list requires you to think long and hard about who will be receiving your news through the media. Before you race off trying to pitch to the Sydney Morning Herald with your brilliant story idea, take a step back and first consider exactly who it is you’re trying to target. Identifying your end audience will allow you to pinpoint the media outlets to pitch to.
- Find the right journalists. Read each journalist’s body of work to determine whether your story is appropriate for their beat, publication or interests. While you may find that there are multiple journalists writing for a specific section or about a specific area, it is important to hone in on those who are writing stories that have some sort of connection with the one you’re going to pitch. However, make sure that not you’re not pitching a journalist on a story they have already written.
- Be as specific as possible. By sending pitches to generic emails such as info@, you’re essentially kissing your chances of coverage goodbye. When possible, it is always better to send your release to an actual person, rather than a news desk. Not only does this help when conducting follow up calls, but it also minimises the chances of your email getting lost in a spam filter. As such, invest some time into searching for each journalist’s contact details, or even locating those of another reporter and following its format (for example: firstname.lastname@example.org). Chances are it will be the same for all staff at the publication.
- Always double-check contact details. We’ve worked with paid media lists before, and can vouch that they aren’t always correct, with some email addresses or phone numbers leading us to dead ends. If you’re unsure of a contact, it’s always a good idea to look up the media outlet or give the journalist a call to confirm their details. The only thing worse than an email going to the wrong person at the wrong outlet, is it going nowhere at all.
- Maintain your list. If there’s anything we’ve learnt when pitching to the media, it’s that journalists can move from outlet to outlet very frequently. For this reason, it is absolutely important to maintain your media list. When you receive an email bounce back from a release you’ve sent, immediately update the contact with its correct details. This will save you from receiving countless error messages when you pitch to them in the future.
While much emphasis is placed on writing media releases correctly and developing the right angle or hook, it is just as important to reach out to the right contacts. After all, if a media release isn’t sent to the correct journalists, then chances are it isn’t going to be published, no matter how great the story is.