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Best practices for maintaining a stellar media list

by | Jun 19, 2015 | Public Relations, Social Media

Communications professionals use targeted media lists to ensure their press releases and pitches aren’t blindly sent out into the media abyss.

Quality over quantity, as the old adage goes. Lists focused to specific journalists and authors will ultimately result in better media relations, and potentially more story placements. But be warned: one wrong pitch to the wrong journalist could earn you a snarky response instead of a front-page story.

That’s why most communications departments implement strategies and policies to keep these media lists as up-to-date as possible. But with such a high turnover rate in the media industry, this seemingly insurmountable task can fall through the cracks.

So what should a PR professional do?

1. Review previous coverage

Running quantitative and qualitative media analysis on your campaigns is always a great place to start: Maintain intricate records of previous coverage your campaigns and pitches have received, and refer back to these records to see which journalists and media outlets provided the most.

Create a list of this information, including as much information as you can about the author, publication and sentiment of the article.

2. Review frequency

Do you see a pattern? Are there journalists who frequently cover your stories or topics? These are valuable contacts with whom you should continue to maintain a good working relationship.

Also, is there an outlet that covers your stories more than others? Make sure to develop relationships with the right people that outlet by attending networking events, communicating via social media, or even asking if you can help with a piece they’re currently writing.

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

3. Review sentiment

Reviewing sentiment allows you to understand which journalists are more likely to pick up your story. Look at your list. Which journalists consistently write favourable articles from your pitches and press releases? You’ll want to prioritize them on your media call list. Are there journalists who consistently write negative articles? Maybe these authors require a phone call to improve the relationship, or to offer up different sources the journalist could speak with. This could provide great insight for your future pitches, and for building your media list.

If these reviews seem time consuming, you can employ a third-party turnkey solution to gather and analyze all of this information for you into an easy to implement, comprehensive report.

4. Review where journalists are communicating most

Though they may publish articles in newspapers, magazines or online media outlets, journalists on your list could prefer communicating via other channels like Twitter, Facebook or Pinterest. Keep an eye on social media, as this type of intel could provide other channels to pitch the journalists on your media list.

Now you’ve made your list. But it’s always changing. What’s the best way to ensure your data is consistently up-to-date?

Well, it takes a little TLC. You could use a third-party service like Agility PR Solutions’ Media Database to ensure you always have the most up-to-date information for your media list.

You can also use one of Twitter’s most underused resources: Twitter lists.

5. Using Twitter lists for media list maintenance

Create a Twitter list and name it something relevant to your pitch, or the industry you’re working with. You can choose to keep this list private; meaning no one else can have access to your exclusive intel.

Find Twitter handles of all the journalists on your targeted media list and add them to your newly created Twitter list. This way, you’ll be able to keep track of the stories they’re writing—which is great for approaching them with new pitches—and you can also stay on top of whether they’ve changed jobs, positions, or beats.

So you’ve done your media analysis, you’ve identified your top authors and publications. You’ve made your media list. Now, how can you ensure the most productivity when making your media calls? Find out in our follow-up blog post.

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Sara Chisholm

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