I follow journalists. I follow their twitter feeds and read what they write.
I also follow their careers. No, I’m not a stalker. I have a genuine interest in keeping abreast as to what’s happening in the world of media. I’ve witnessed journalists change jobs within the same media outlet, move to different outlets and even to different parts of the country as a result of their own career pursuits or mergers and acquisitions. Keeping track of all this is not an easy task, but a crucial part of what I do.
I’ve put much effort into building and maintaining my media lists, which took time to cultivate. I am often asked by clients, after we have agreed upon which media we plan to target, to provide a complete list with contact names, phone numbers and email addresses. I tell clients all the time, (tongue in cheek) – “That’s like KFC sharing the Colonel’s Secret Recipe or Cadbury revealing how they get the caramel inside the Caramilk bar.”
It’s something I just don’t do. I have built these lists one journalist at a time. I guard these lists closely and truly regard my media contacts as relationships – which is one of the many things I attribute much of my success and the media coverage I garnish for clients.
I love my clients, I really do. But those lists in the wrong hands can wreak havoc on something I have worked so hard on and for so many years. Reporters get pitched stories totally unrelated to what they cover all the time. It’s a nuisance to them, and quite frankly, a bone of contention in the PR industry.
When creating your own media lists, if you do anything at all – do these two things:
- Make sure your list is accurate. Do your homework. Know exactly what a journalist does and does not cover.
- Ensure your story has news value. Distributing a news release that has the look and feel of a “sales pitch” can do more harm than good – and on a permanent basis.