The media list has been the holy grail in the PR business.
It’s a shrine-worthy artifact that PR pros hold dear—and near—but as the
industry modernizes, so must the media list.
While a home base for media contacts is smart, it should no longer be the
only tool you use. Instead, add a search engine to your contact mining
Journalist beats are changing quickly as the number of journalists decline.
One journalist may juggle five beats at once. Therefore, media lists built
in databases are increasingly outdated. Google, however, isn’t.
There are four pieces to the pitch planning pie:
Research and relationships (60 percent)
This is the most important pie slice. A drag-and-drop database media list
will never earn you the caliber of coverage that research and relationships
will. By researching who has covered your topic in the past, a search
engine will allow you to spend time getting to know a journalist’s style
and help you better tailor your pitch.
If someone writes about smartphones regularly, for example, then you know
that your pitch relating to smartphones might resonate. After spending the
necessary time to build relationships over the years, you’ll have fostered
relationships with journalists you already know will like your pitch.
Media list (20 percent)
You shouldn’t abandon the media list wholesale. Though research and
relationships deliver the most ROI, a media list has its place in the pie
filling, too. When you’re just starting out in PR or learning an entirely
new client’s industry, a media list is helpful place to start learning the
However, pulling from a media database only gets you so far. Googling who
covers a pitch topic and adding it to a database list is where a truly
strategic (and relevant) media list comes to life.
Editorial Calendar (10 percent)
There’s always value in planning ahead as much as one can in the short-lead
world we live in. Prepping editorial calendars for seasonal shopping, gift
guides and holidays is basic PR.
However, this craft is ranked third because it’s not as useful as it once
was. An article in Adweek sheds light on the editorial calendar via an
from tech firm, Bospar. The audit surveyed 50 U.S. media outlets, finding
that “nearly half of the outlets have stopped publishing ed cals.”
Editorial calendars were created 400 years ago for print newspapers and are
losing relevance in our short-lead world of rapid content creation and
distribution, information overload and two-minute tweet lifetimes.
Luck (10 percent)
As any PR pro can attest, sometimes you get lucky. Whether it’s inbound
interest or a few bites off a large company announcement pitch,
occasionally the stars align.
The lesson here is that you never really know who might like your news or
angle, and sometimes it’s surprising to see what sticks.
How do you find your media contacts, PR Daily readers?
Brooks Wallace is the west coast lead for the Hollywood Agency, a
full-service PR firm.