15:09 PM

Five steps for building a better media contact list

How media research works and why it will improve the quality of your media coverage.

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Media Research


A new client, product, service or announcement can be cause for media research.

From databases to Internet search queries, Twitter and everything in between, research can be time consuming and inefficient.

So, here are five steps to ensure the next time you sit down to create a new media contact or distribution list, you are able to maximize your time and improve your results.

Re-examine the target audience

One of the biggest mistakes PR professionals make either due to inexperience or a lack of time, is assuming the same media contacts they reached out to regarding the previous announcement or opportunity will be interested in the next one.

It’s critical to re-examine the target audience for the announcement before beginning media research of any kind.

Who are you trying to reach? Why would they be interested in your news?

Narrow down the list of outlets within the realm of possibility

Once you’ve determined who the target audience is, consider where this group goes to get news and information.

Of these media outlets, which are likely to be interested in your story or announcement?

Creating a realistic contact list from the get-go will help efforts stay focused and will reduce the risk of sending press releases to the wrong person or the wrong outlet, saving time (and face).

Don’t believe everything you read

Simply pulling a list of media outlets and media contacts from a database doesn’t really count as “research.”

Of those collected, it’s imperative to dig into each contact to confirm their current employer and their beat. It’s impossible for a media contacts database to stay 100 percent up-to-date, 100 percent of the time.

Use this contact information as a starting point and work to verify it through media outlet and Internet searches.

Research media contacts outside of database listings

Don’t forget about social media! Most reporters and columnists are active on Twitter, which is a great way to not only get a feel for who they are and what they’re interested in but also to see headlines they’ve penned in recent days.

Take some time to verify search results and initiate engagement before sending the press release or story idea.

Focus on research quality instead of quantity

The strength of a media contacts list isn’t in its length but, rather, its reputation and audience reach.

While a list of 100 media contacts may yield coverage in more media outlets than a list of 20, the more targeted list will reach the right audience faster and with the right message, providing better results.

Keep in mind the number of email address subscribers or unique site visitors per month are great to track but mean very little when it comes to measuring success.

Smarter media research and outreach can take more time, but in the long run it provides better results and increases PR efficiencies.

It’s a deeper, more targeted approach to spreading the word that not only improves awareness and engagement but also works to build genuine media relationships that can last beyond a one-off announcement or pitch.

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