Meghan Ely is the owner of wedding marketing and wedding pr firm OFD Consulting. As a highly sought-after speaker in the wedding industry, she is the exclusive Wedding PR Education Expert for WeddingWire as well as the national Communications and Marketing Director for WIPA. To learn how OFD Consulting can assist you, as well as more about our new wedding PR kits, please visit us today.
I find myself regularly sharing tips on how to get published but the inevitable question always pops up – how do I build a list of media contacts in the first place?
Curating your own list of contacts – from blog editors and freelance writers to news editors and producers – admittedly takes a little bit (ok, a lot) of elbow grease and patience but the potential results are well worth the efforts.
So how does one get started with creating a tailored media list?
First, it’s best to take pause and dig into your ultimate press goals as well as your proficiency. Media lists should not be arbitrary- instead they should be a collection of journalists whose beat (aka their general subject area) matches your expertise and who can connect you to your targeted audience. So in other words, if you’re focused on reaching engaged couples, don’t spend too much time focused on hunting down the name of the producer for the local 10am morning show.
Next, it’s time to get organized. While there are templates available, you can get the ball rolling by simply opening up an Excel file and creating the following columns: media outlet, link to the site, contact, email address (remember: journalists prefer to be pitched via email!), their social media handles and editorial deadlines (if applicable). Consider also making a column dedicated to additional notes.
If you already have a handful of media contacts, then great! Start filling in the blanks, making sure your information is current.
This is when the true challenge begins, as media lists won’t simply populate themselves. There are a number of directions you can consider going, including:
- Purchasing a database. There are companies that will sell you media lists for your own use. The advantage is that you can potentially save yourself quite a bit of time. The downside is that you’re still going to want to set aside time to research each contact’s body of work. It may also be cost prohibitive.
- Join HARO. Help a Report Out is a great, free resource that will send media leads to your inbox three times daily Monday-Friday. If you get into the practice of steadily pitching opportunities, you’ll not only see a potential increase in press for your business, but the chance to add more media connections to your list for future pitching.
- Explore Twitter Lists. Twitter Lists are a PR Pro’s best friend. When following media outlets on Twitter, it’s good practice to add them to a personal media Twitter list so you can access them in one area. Likewise, Twitter now allows you to search public Twitter lists of other users, giving you the chance to explore other people’s media lists to see if there is anyone you need to put on your radar.
- Good old-fashioned Googling. Even with the above strategies, you are going to still find yourself online searching for additional contacts. Try relevant key words and topics as related to your expertise (wedding planning, wedding photography and wedding dresses, for example). You’ll no doubt come upon publications, blogs and even freelance writers who may write for a number of sites.
Remember – your media list will continue to evolve as your company changes so consider it an ongoing project that will always benefit from a bit of fine-tuning.