One of the most common questions I get as a PR consultant is which reporters, editors, producers or bloggers should we contact.
Many public relations professionals subscribe to databases that give them at least some of this information. However, the databases are expensive and probably prohibitive for most non-professionals. And, even with access to Cision, Vocus, MyMediaInfo or similar tools, many PR pros (me included) also do the type of research I’ll describe below.
So, first, identify the key media outlets.
You need to determine the media outlets that are important to you. What publications do your customers and prospects read? What programs do they listen to and watch? What bloggers do they respect?
You probably know much of this. So:
- List all the publications, programs and blogs that immediately come to mind. These are probably most of the major targets.
- Do an online search for your company, competition, industry and other keywords. See what media have covered you and your market. If you’re uncertain about keywords, go to Google’s AdWords tool (http://bit.ly/9FqW8F) and search your industry. You’ll find related, highly searched keyword terms.
Research the publications.
To identify the right people to contact in a magazine or newspaper:
- Read your target publication(s), if only online. Note its sections and departments. Pay attention to its tone and topics. Look for bylines (the line typically at the beginning of an article that identifies the author). Also check the names of experts quoted in the articles. You might want to include them in your list.
- Go on the publications’ websites and check out their media kits, which are usually in the “About Us” or “Advertising” section. The media kit gives an overview of the publication’s audience and mission. You’ll often find information on the editorial staff, possibly including their titles, areas of responsibility and contact information.
- Check the media kits for comparisons with competing publications, which might help you identify other publications to target.
- Check the website’s “Contact Us” section. Publications, programs or blogs often give directions on how to contact them. Follow those directions carefully.
- Also, research a media database or directory in your local library. However, the description in such books is no substitute for reading the publication or blog. So use the media directory to cross-check and see if you have missed anything, not as the be-all-and-end-all.
Research broadcast programs.
Do the same type of research for any broadcast program. Note:
- Its format (e.g., news program or talk show)
- Tone (e.g., positive, controversial, lighthearted)
- Typical subject matter
- Standard segments (e.g., news, financial advice, cooking).
Study the personalities of the show’s host and hostess. Learn the correct pronunciation and spelling of their names. (Don’t be like the PR consultant who mispronounced the name of a leading California radio personality when talking to his producer. This showed that she had not listened to the program. It’s fair to assume the producer didn’t listen to her.)
This will help you identify people and become familiar with their work. With that familiarity, you can tie your pitches into the reporter’s areas of interest and responsibility, and increase your chances of success.
This process will get you started. I’ll discuss how to research bloggers in a later post.
In the meantime, do you have other tips on how to identify the “right” media? I’d love to hear from you.
And you can read more articles about public relations and publicity on my website at www.CommunicationsPlus.net/PRArticles.html.