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4 tips to build a targeted media outreach list from scratch

by | Feb 28, 2017 | Influencers, Journalism, Media database, Media Relations, PR Tools

When you’ve been promoting the same message for any length of time, you get to know the key influencers on the topic. Once you’ve created your media outreach list, all that’s left is maintenance; you just need to keep the information up to date, and stay on top of new outlets, freelancers, and bloggers.

But if you’re embarking on a new campaign, one with a different message, chances are you’re starting from scratch. You may know some of the key outlets in which you ideally want to appear, but whom exactly to reach out to remains a mystery, let alone how to connect once you’ve identified them. These tips will show you how best to find the key influencers who can deliver your message the way you want it to be presented.

1. Mine from a reliable database

The only way to create an accurate and useful list of influencers is with an up-to-date media database. A database may boast millions of contacts, but all the journalist names in the world aren’t going to help you if their information is old or just plain wrong. When it comes to media databases, quantity is good, but quality quantity is better. With more than two million updates made every year, you can trust that Agility’s database is as reliable as any out there. Just sayin’.

2. Dig deep

A good outreach tool will offer different ways to find and connect with relevant influencers.

Traditional search methods include finding media contacts by beat or topic. More advanced tools will also include a keyword search feature. The keyword search is imperative for campaigns that do not directly match a beat or topic; by scanning billions of past articles, the Agility database can produce a list of influencers who have ever written about a specific person, event, or niche topic germane to your campaign. For example, I just typed in “fondue” as my keyword and saw 235 results of journalists and bloggers from around the world who have mentioned fondue in their past work. I can click on an individual and be taken to their profile page, from where I can see their latest tweets to find out if they’ve got fondue on the brain right now. Fondue!

Learn how media databases can help you find the media contacts your looking for.
Read Media Databases: The Ultimate Guide.

Entering your keywords and/or beats and/or topics will instantly provide a long list of relevant media contacts. But to ensure that you have all of the influencers that identify with your message, go one step further and do a second search for related topics. With every search returns, Agility’s database provides you with a list of subjects that are directly related, allowing you to filter your results and dig deeper. Simply click on one of the suggested sub-topics, then go ahead and add those new contacts to your list.

Agility app target media outreach list screenshot

The Agility database in its glory

3. Mine that social media gold

Different from a media monitoring search that would bring in the full fire hose of data from your keywords (with the majority of the data being irrelevant), Agility’s newest feature, Influencer Streams, shows you when keywords are being used in tweets from contacts in the database. Infleuncer Streams differs from other social listening tools in that the results you see are from qualified media contacts, and not just anyone with a handle, meaning everyone you see who’s tweeting about your keyword is a bona fide influencer. Type in a keyword, see who’s tweeting about it, and add that person to your list in a snap.

Influencer Streams also allows you to build a social media stream out of any list you’ve created. This is a huge advantage for PR professionals who are looking to find ways to connect with influencers on their list. Once you’ve sent out a distribution, you can see a single feed of every tweet, blog, and online news article that comes from influencers on your lists. This is the most effective way to find common ground between their message and yours.

gif of Influencer Streams in action

Influencer Streams in action

4. Focus, focus, focus

A big long media outreach list might seem like a good thing (and in many cases it is – more names means more chance your message will get the coverage it deserves, right?) but be careful that it’s not crowded with contacts that aren’t true fits.

A person may be listed under the education beat, but if your message concerns post-secondary and they write exclusively about kindergarten, it won’t be a match. You don’t want to waste their time – and yours – by reaching out to people who simply won’t cover your topic. Besides, it’s possible to get a bad reputation by sending mass emails to irrelevant contacts. It might seem elementary, but you can’t hear it enough: the best way to amplify your message is with targeted outreach to relevant influencers who personally identify with your message.

By changing how your list is displayed, you can see which contacts are ripe for removal. For example, by grouping them by outlet, you can see which are the best contacts at each source. You can also view your contacts by region, which is an easy way to eliminate contacts that are outside of your target market.

And depending on how sensitive your message is, it can be essential to look at recent articles or tweets to ensure that each contact on your list shares the same values that you want to communicate in your message. This way you can ensure your message will be delivered the way you intend.

By following these steps, you can quickly create a new and extremely targeted media contact list.

To learn about how Agility can improve your media outreach so you can find and connect with the right influencers, get in touch with us.


This post originally appeared on February 28, 2017, and contained only three tips.

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Matt French
As an account executive with Agility PR Solutions, Matt's role is to help PR professionals leverage the latest technology to amplify their message and maximize their results. He's also shockingly good at foosball.

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