Knowing who to reach out to in the media is becoming an increasingly more complex task.
Journalists working at mass media publications are inundated with press releases, emails and phone calls (on top of unreasonable editorial deadlines) from both professional public relations specialists as well as any random person who thinks they have a story worthy of their attention. It's a complex world that has only been intensified over the past five years as Blogs become an additional and all-important place to get your message heard.
The challenge is that Bloggers are not Journalists (granted, some Journalists are also Bloggers). Bloggers don't like being "pitched" and some journalists are getting to the point where any email that has the slightest whiff of being part of a mass email distribution is being publicly shamed or blacklisted from their inbox.
Are you confused and perplexed?
How do you build trust with both Bloggers and Journalists in a low-trust economy?
The trick is to build a proper and targeted media list that includes both Journalists and Bloggers, but where do you start?
Here's the best way (in my humble opinion):
Create a free Google Alert for your direct competition and one for the biggest player in your industry.
While creating a Google Alert is nothing new, using that information is something that Marketers and Communications professional rarely talk about. By following your direct competition and the biggest player in your industry, you can easily document the types of publications and Blogs that are interested in your space. You can easily pull contact information from these alerts. It's pretty simple to populate a simple Excel file with the publication/Blog name, journalist/Blogger, title of related entry (and the link), date of entry and contact information.
Now, when you have news of relevance, you've built up some kind of highly-targeted media hit list. You also know the style in which they write, so when you send them information you can even reference the post/article that led you to them.
All the common rules of society still apply when contacting Journalists and Bloggers:
- Be nice.
- Be respectful of their time.
- Recognize that these are busy people too.
- Be self-aware that most of them do not like to be pitched.
- Don't annoy them or hound them if you don't hear back from them.
- Say please and thank you.
- Make it easy, simple and fun to connect to you and whatever it is you're pitching them.
- Give them time and space to breathe (your rush is not their rush).
The real trick is in nurturing your media list. Pruning it, adding to it, updating it and expanding it. Does any of the above replace the power of working with a professional public relations firm? No. They bring years of experience, insight and communications prowess to the process. Is using Google Alerts a great way to get started if you are bootstrapping or would like to take a quick start at building your own media list? Yes.
The last point is to make it personal. Don't mass email them. Let them know why you chose to send them the information based on what you've read.
Bonus points: comment on their Blogs and be a part of their community before you need them to talk about you.
It's going to be a lot easier to get coverage if they recognize your name as someone who has been contributing to the comments and the community by adding value for some time.
What other simple, fast and free tools do you use to get media attention?