When I first began learning all things Media Relations, I assumed the correct way to build the quintessential media list was pulling one massive list with every contact that could even slightly be a fit for the pitch. I thought, the more folks I pitch the better my odds of getting a bite, right? While this can certainly land you interest from a journalist here and there, public relations professionals must think of media lists less as a needle in a haystack and more as a surgeon’s scalpel.
The reality is, Reporters respond to only roughly 3% of pitches they receive, and while a lot of the “odds” of you being within that 3% is based off of a winning pitch, the success rate is of landing a hit with the press begins first with how you determine who you are pitching it to.
Put the Time in
In the words for NFL cornerback, Richard Sherman, “If you put in the work, put in the time, put in the effort, you’re going to reap the benefits.” Building media lists may be somewhat different than playing professional football; however, putting in the time to building a powerful media list will certainly increase your odds of scoring a media touchdown. Media lists are about the relationships being built between you and reporters – and often, the smaller and more personalized the better.
One of the most infuriating things for reporters is when it is apparent that you did not put the work into understanding which topics they cover.
Determine Who the Best Target Audience Is
When you are building a list, it is important to reflect carefully on your pitch and determine who it is speaking to. Are you speaking to a B2B or consumer audience? Is your pitch tailored around a contributed article or are you trying to land broadcasted interviews? Asking yourself these questions is extremely important as you build. Once you have determined this, it is very helpful to include the journalist’s job title within the list to give you and your team members visibility as to what their role is specifically and if they really should be sending their byline article pitch to an CNBC producer.
Where To Get Your Media Contacts
There are many helpful platforms, with everything from Cision to Muckrack, but media relations pros should never forget to go back to a good ol’ organic Google search as well. This is a helpful tactic to ensure that you are not sending your pitches to just your friendlies every time. This tactic can also increase the timeliness or relevancy of what the reporter is covering.
Build Out and Update
As you are pitching, it is important to ensure your list stays “fresh.” This means making notes when a reporter replies with interest or lack of, or possibly updating if a reporter has moved on to another industry or company. Another task that may tack on a few more minutes but can help gain media attention is making a note of why you are adding them to the list for this specific campaign or pitch. This can help you streamline your process when tailoring your pitches for the reporter and quickly identify if they would be a fit for other lists you create in the future.
Putting the time in to vet through relevant journalists you think may be a fit can also save you from pitching a dated list. Reporters often relocate to new publications, new roles, and even new topics, so it is important to constantly check that you are not adding an individual that retired to the Bahamas over 4 months ago.
Don’t Give Up
Though the task can be tedious, and maybe you will not land a hit in Forbes with every list built, but see the time you invest as intentional building blocks which will set you up for a future success in landing the press results and media coverage you are working for.