Looking to get some press? Build a media list

Businessman being interviewed by the media

You’ve written a media release announcing an exciting piece of news from your business and you’re now ready to send it. Securing coverage is vital to the success of the project, so you want to make sure you distribute the announcement to the right journalists. So how do you do that?

By following these simple tips you can build a media list that will have your important announcement in the hands of those that matter.

Identify the industry sectors that are relevant to your message

Consider the makeup of a business and its clients. What organisations does it identify with? Who is its target audience? Does it operate on a national, state or local level? Think outside the box, but always ensure the sector has relevance to the company.

Ask yourself – is your message for trade or consumer media (what’s the difference)

Once you have identified the relevant industry sectors that you wish to send your announcement to, you must decide if the release is for general distribution, or relevant to either trade or consumer media.

Trade publications are specific to an industry and are a useful channel to get your message out to those in your sector. Trade publications are always looking for relevant industry copy and are very open to forging positive relationships.

Mainstream media comprises newspapers and newspaper magazines (suburban, state and national), popular magazines (often national), radio and television (state or national). Don’t forget there are specific sections in the mainstream media you can target, for example IT and marketing.

With the exception of suburban newspapers, mainstream media will often only run a story if it has wide appeal, is relevant to an ongoing national issue, timely to an event and non-promotional.

Compile a list of target publications and journalists

There are many media sites which can assist with this process for a fee, otherwise you can research search terms (such as Australian small business magazines) through Google or similar programs.

If you choose to research your own list you may often find there is a generic email address for media releases. If a contact number is also provided, phone the organisation and ask for the email of a journalist who deals specifically with your industry. It is always better to send your release to an actual person, rather than a newsdesk. Not only does it help when phoning to follow up, but it also ensures your message is not going to get lost in a spam filter.

Always double check

Even if you are using a paid-for media list, there are times when it will still be incorrect.

If you are unsure, look up the news organisation, or give them a call to confirm. The only thing worse than an announcement going to the wrong person at the wrong outlet, is it going nowhere at all.

Choose relevant contact information

For most media lists, this will be the name of the publication, the first and last name of the journalist and their title, an email address and a phone number for following up. You could include a company website for reference, but it’s unlikely you will need to make note of a fax number.

Build your list

Either use a database program or an excel spreadsheet to display your media list. All columns should have clear bold headings and information should be displayed in order, and in a consistent format.

If you work with multiple industry sectors and want to tailor messages to specific media, display contact information by industry group.

Maintain your list

Now that you have compiled a great media list, it’s important to maintain it. When you receive an email bounce back, immediately update the contact in your media list.

Often the bounce back will include the new contact. If not, phone the organisation to get the name, contact information and rounds list of the replacement.

Even though we often spend the most time on developing the angle or the media release, if you don’t send it to the correct journalists, then it isn’t going to be successful, no matter how great it is.