I received a very good question on my last blog post for suggestions on how new PR practitioners can build solid media lists. First of all, let me say that by entering the industry now, you already start from a very good place with a solid grounding in social media. This is really the future of PR. Remember the days when you had a breaking news story and all you had to do was find a phone booth to call it into a news desk? OK, truth be known, me neither, but that’s the way it used to happen. Today, the way journalists source and report the news is changing. As media finds its comfort level with a new business model online, so does the PR industry with the way we interact with journalists and target audiences.
As mentioned in my previous post, reporters are on the move – and for the most part, it is difficult to keep media lists up to date. It takes diligence and a continuous effort to ensure lists stay relevant. I also mentioned the importance of following Twitter feeds. I view Twitter accounts like I do LinkedIn, a way to stay connected. I love that I can follow a colleague on LinkedIn throughout their career and have the ability to connect, regardless of where professional lives may take them. Twitter works much the same way. No matter where you end up professionally, your Twitter account is likely never going to change with the loyal following of tweeps you’ve managed to acquire and connect with over time. When collecting all the relevant information for your media lists, include journalists’ Twitter and Facebook accounts. Use their profiles to verify contact information from time to time – especially before you send out a release. This will ensure your news is targeted and lists are accurate.
Personally, I have used Twitter and Facebook to reach out and respond to journalists. I’m not suggesting to blast out a release through social media, however, connecting with journalists through these mediums is a great way to build relationships. I’ve found it very effective, when used respectfully. I recommend creating Twitter lists of journalists by topics covered and geography, (and I suggest you protect them by locking them and making them private). The last thing you want is to have these lists publically available to expose those journalists you’ve built relationships with to massive amounts of spam releases.
The rapport between the media and PR professionals has traditionally been… um, let’s just say, an estranged relationship, but I believe as media and PR converge in the digital world, it’s a new way to cohesively exist and work together. Beyond the obvious of delivering good quality material on time, the key to building relationships is to understand journalists and what they’re really looking for – and what better way to do that than through social media!