One of my ongoing projects as an intern at The Abbi Agency so far has been cleaning up and updating their overall media list. Media lists are a common task for Public Relations interns, so this assignment was not a huge surprise to me.
But what was a surprise to me was how huge of a project it became. I am ending my fifth week as an intern and I am STILL working on cleaning up the media list (when I’m caught up on my other projects).
This task has taught me so much about how to keep a media list organized. Here are the top tips I have for anybody working on their own PR media list:
1. Contact people
In our digital age, we are fortunate enough to be able to find most information we could ever need online. Visiting newsroom and broadcast websites has helped me immensely to find contact information lists of each individual news contact. But there is a ton of important information that a news outlet’s website generally leaves out.
For instance, it is crucial for a PR company to know when story ideas are due so that they can pitch stories on time. It also is necessary to know how a person prefers to be contacted. To answer these questions, it is imperative to actually reach out and contact the different news people.
Picking up the phone is the best way to get answers quickly for a media list. However, I prefer email (because I usually get tongue-tied on the phone), which also works. It has taken a crazy amount of time, but I have contacted almost every single person on our Reno media list to find out these details. The information I have received will be helpful to The Abbi Agency as they use the media list in the future.
2. Focus on individuals, not organizations
For a PR agency, it is not very useful to find a general number of a newsroom at a news station. What is useful is finding an individual reporter’s email address, phone number, direct line, LinkedIn and Twitter accounts, their beat, their story deadlines, and how they prefer to be contacted.
Make sure that you are looking for contact information of individual people as you build your media list. It will help you directly reach the people who work in news outlets and will give you a better chance of getting real media coverage.
3. Categorize and Organize
Your list is essentially useless if it is not organized and easy-to-use. Make sure you choose a format that works for you and your group as you start putting it together. We use Microsoft Excel for ours, which is great because it allows you to filter columns to locate information quickly. It also is a clear, organized format that keeps your data consistent and clear.
Make sure your categories are efficient and make sense to whoever is reading the list. The Abbi Agency’s list includes Twitter and LinkedIn accounts, but if your group does not use those social media outlets to pitch stories then it is a waste of time to include them on the list. Find what categories of information will help you the most, and use those.
I also recommend that you keep your media list on an open or shared platform. Whether you store it on the public server or save it as a Google Doc, make sure it is accessible to your entire group. This way, people who use the list can update it and add in their own information as they need to.
4. Invest Time
Like I said, I have literally spent weeks working on the media list and am still not finished. It is time consuming to look up and contact every person working in every media outlet in your region, but it is also incredibly worthwhile.
The hours that you spend now on your media list will save you a ton of time later as you are using it to contact media. It will help you reach people directly and with their accurate information, which will make your, or whoever is using the media list’s, job much easier. Keep that in mind as the hours tediously stretch on while you are building the media list.
5. Consistently Update/Check
Even after the endless hours and effort you have put into your list to make it the World’s Best Media List, your work is not finished. People change jobs, titles, emails, phone numbers, and hours all the time, which means that your list could be inaccurate as soon as you finish it.
To keep your list correct and updated at all times, make sure that you check it regularly. I would recommend setting aside time once a month to email your entire list and verify that the information is correct. And, as you contact the media day-to-day and find out new information, add it or update it immediately. Your list will never officially be “done,” but you can take these steps to make it as complete as possible.