PR and Media Relations are a crucial part of marketing strategies, but some of the activities involved are very time-consuming. One of these is building your own media contact list.
Wait, why don’t you just buy a full list of contacts? You can always spray and pray, but usually it doesn’t work that much.
Where do you start from?
Here’s a step-by-step guide to find relevant contacts and manage them in lists.
Define your goals
What’s your main goal when building your list? Getting press is not a goal in itself. What kind of press are you looking for, and why? Who are you talking to? Don’t focus only on journalists, there are many more influencers out there.
Where can I find the right people?
Make a list of all the important media channels your audience gets their news from. Find interesting leads and add them all to your presslist on pr.co. You don’t have one? A spreadsheet will do. The more you find out about these people, the more complete and helpful your list will be.
Start from acquaintances
Your network is a perfect way to start from. You can ask directly for introductions to the people you want to reach. If someone you know recommends something to you, wouldn’t you pay attention? Even Robert Scoble would.
Search on Google
This may look like a no-brainer, but it’s worth your time. Common queries are related to your industry’s keywords or your competitors’ names. Check the first results: who wrote those articles? Write down the journalists’ names to dig deeper later.
Another common query is to use advanced operators, such as “site:”, to check who covers specific areas for a magazine you want to target. So, who covers NFC at Gigaom? Who writes about startups at Forbes? Who does what on TechCrunch?
Remember: it’s always a journalist who covers you, not a whole magazine.
Set up Google Alerts
Set up a Google Alert for the most relevant keywords for your strategy. You will receive emails containing links to the most relevant new results indexed on Google.
Attention: only the most relevant results are included in the alerts, not every single result indexed by Google. Then, you can find the writer’s contact information and add them to your list.
Monitor everything on Mention
At Mention they claim to be Google Alerts on steroids and, well, they are. You can monitor any public source, from blogs to Social Media accounts to news sites. You get real time notifications or daily digests.
Listen and engage on Twitter
How do you engage people on Twitter? How do you find influencers in your niche? You can run some advanced queries with your usual keywords, find some interesting people and follow them. Afterwards, start interacting. Read this guide to find more about both topics.
Sometimes reporters tweet out requests for information to find sources for stories they are working on. You can find these in real time and help out. Twitter lists are also helpful to group people by category and follow them more carefully. Keep also in mind that public lists are flattering for the people you add.
Find conversations on LinkedIn
Start from LinkedIn groups: what are the most active groups in your industry? You don’t need to start from the bigger groups. Sometimes it’s better to join a small group with many active participants, than a bigger group where nobody interacts.
Basically, any kind of business lead can be found on LinkedIn. Read this guide to get further hints on this topic.
Try some blog aggregators
Alltop is an aggregator of blogs and magazines on a particular subject. You can use it to keep up with current trends and discover new sources. Use Technorati to search for blog posts on any subject. They also manage a list of the Top 100 Blogs, so you immediately get what’s popular in your industry.
Help A Reporter Out
HARO is a service that connects journalists with sources. You get 3 emails a day with queries from media outlets worldwide. Whenever you find a topic you’re an expert in, you can reply. Keep track of journalists and bloggers that regularly cover your subject areas.
Local media outlets thrive on anything that is local. Contact your hometown magazines and blogs, or even the media outlets within your country of origin. Whenever you find your local angle, you have the perfect way to join a bigger trending topic.
Get the journalists’ beat
You need to include a lot of information from the relevant people you want to reach as well. What are their favourite topics, what’s their writing style? Any relevant information about how they do their job will help when you start engaging them.
Find any email address
Many journalists make it very easy to contact them. They feature their email in their Twitter bio, or maybe in their author widget after their posts. Many times, if you ask them in a tweet you’ll get their email address.
Still, be selective: what sort of people do you want on your list? When do you need your list to be ready? Think about quality, not just quantity - a large list of the wrong people has not much value. A smaller amount of well-targeted contacts can be priceless.
Guessing an email address is also quite easy nowadays. Check this video to find out how.
Keep refining the list
Your list is an ongoing project you need to refresh often. Use networking occasions to enlarge your list, take some time to read and comment the latest articles by your favourite bloggers and journalists - they’re all in your feed reader now.
If you do this on a weekly basis, you’ll also notice when someone gets a new job, or a new magazine launches, or there are news about the editorial staff of your favourite magazine. Every change goes directly to your amazing list of media contacts.