Spring Cleaning Your Media List
There are few things as important to a PR professional as a well-crafted media list. A media list isn’t just a list of contacts, it’s a relationship management database that reflects the status of your outreach efforts. That’s why keeping your list packed with vital information about your most important connections, organizing it in a way that makes sense to you, keeping it constantly updated and filling it with helpful notes to maximize your journalist relationships are absolutely key to your outreach!
Let’s dive deeper into how to curate a perfect—yes, perfect—media list that’ll help you take your reporter relationships to the next level.
Every PR professional has those lists—cluttered, overwhelming and confounding. But your media list shouldn’t read like a Kafka novel. An ideal list should be a readable, streamlined, and straightforward document that provides only the most crucial information. So, what kind of information belongs on your list? Well, first, make sure only the right reporters are on there. For a pitch around AI in IT operations, for example, make sure the reporters on your list are from highly relevant outlets. Include reporters who have written about AI in IT ops in the (recent) past. Whom you target is the number one differentiator between a pitch that lands and a pitch that falls flat. Don’t let your pitches fall flat—pitch people who have a proven track record of caring about what you’re pitching about!
Once you’ve got the most relevant people on your list, the next step is to make sure you’re including information strategically relevant to your outreach. That means, of course, names and email addresses—but if you plan on following up by phone, make sure you’ve got their numbers as well. It helps to know a reporter’s location, which you can use to personalize your pitch. It’s important to know their titles, so you don’t accidentally pitch someone unlikely to reply, like an editor-in-chief. A short note or bio is crucial, as it can help you frame your pitch in as relevant a way as possible—but make sure you supplement bios downloaded from reporter databases with your own research, because sometimes they can be outdated.
Once you have all of the most relevant and accurate information on your target reporters, it’s time to make sure your list is organized intuitively, that is, in a way that feels helpful and useful to you. Keep in mind, not every PR pro will organize their lists the same way—it’s all a matter of what looks right to you, and what enables you to maximize the potential of your outreach.
Every list should have the columns clearly labeled, and the rows easily readable, and formatting should be consistent throughout. If you’re not sure if your list is organized well, ask yourself: Am I scrambling around my list to find important information? Is it hard to read or operate? If the answer is “yes” to any of those questions, it’s time to make a change!
Another extremely important aspect of list-building and maintenance is updating your list. Reporters change jobs and beats regularly, and it’s a PR pro’s job to stay on top of where target reporters are going and what they’re covering. Reporters frequently post these types of changes on Twitter, so be sure to follow them to stay apprised of changes. And most importantly, when any info changes, from contact details to biographical information, update your list to reflect it!
Finally, it’s important to treat your list as not just a contact list, but a CRM tool. In a PR context, this means using it as a reporter relationship management tool. Our job isn’t just about pitching the media, it’s about cultivating meaningful and reciprocal relationships with journalists. And like any relationship, this requires work, so keep notes on your contacts in a specially designated column on your list. Include every detail that might help you improve your outreach! What have they covered lately? What kinds of questions do they tend to ask in interviews? Are there any “red flags” you should consider when reaching out to them? The more you know about your contact, the likelier they’ll be to respond after you hit “send.”
Remember, a media list is a PR pro’s most important tool. Make sure to make the most of it by keeping it full of vital information, organizing it in an intuitive and helpful way, maintaining it with updating information, and including important details to maximize your journalist relationships. With a great list, your outreach will result in that much more success!
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