The first thing I did when I went freelance was create a media list for my business.
Not only did it give me something to focus on, it was a good excuse to do some research into the local press and gave me a reason to contact them, introduce myself and what I was up to... my media lists are ever changing and constantly evolving as new stories break, platforms change and clients come aboard.
In my opinion, media lists are an essential part of your marketing pack and if you've not yet put one together, here's a little guide to getting started.
What is a media list?
A media list is a spreadsheet or address book filled with contacts at publications you'd like to work with to promote your business, including newspapers, magazines, broadcast journalists
What information should you include on a media list?
You can put as much or as little information on a media list as you'd like but the basics are: Name of publication, name of contact, contact email address and contact telephone number. You can also add things like Twitter handle, demographics and audience figures to help you select who to work with on what.
Which media outlets should you include on your list?
Before you start making your list, do some market research. Which media outlets do your target market engage with? For example, older audiences still opt for a combination of traditional print and social media, whereas younger ones can be reached through influencers and bloggers. Think about how you want to tell your story before starting your list.
How to get contacts
Before you get down to the nitty-gritty, do some reading. Research your chosen publications to find out what sorts of stories/features they cover and most importantly, who covers what.
Most media outlets will have a generic email or contact form, so if you can get a name BEFORE making initial contact, then your message will be directed to the right place. If so, start by writing an email of introduction and explain what you do, then ask to be put in touch with *insert name or department* as you're creating a media list. Make sure you include all of your contact details in the email for their own contacts book.
My name is Megan Allen and I have recently started a small PR agency in Oakham working with rural tourism businesses. I'm putting together a list of contacts and would like to know the best person to get in touch with on your business desk for future reference.
Please could you send me their direct contact details or pass on my email on and ask them to get in touch?
Thank you in advance.
If you don't hear back within a few days, follow up with a phone call. Remember that news desks are busy, so they can take a while to reply...
Trick of the trade: use Twitter
If you want to engage with the media, Twitter is the best platform to do so. Not only do journalists share stories on there so you can keep up to date with your industry, they often use it to ask for expertise in a certain field. Checking #journorequest once a day could open doors to new contacts and story-telling opportunities.
Keep your media list updated
Like all professions, people in the media come and go and they probably won't tell you they're moving on, so you need to keep on top of your list to ensure that it's up to date.
I recommend checking at them at least once every six months to ensure people haven't moved on. The best way to do that is to send a quick email or make a phone call asking if your contact is still the right person to speak to about X,Y and Z.
As a PR, I have local and national contacts at my fingertips and if you're a WiRE (Women in Rural Enterprise) member I offer a 20 per cent discount off bespoke media lists, so if you'd like me to put together a list of contacts for you or give you a head start before you pitch to the local or national press, please get in touch.