I’m in the interesting position of being both a PR consultant and – apparently because of this blog, Prakkypedia – part of the media.
At least, that’s according to the emails regularly hitting my inbox.
Several times a week, I receive emailed media releases or media pitches from a wide variety of firms with a wide variety of topics and “stories to sell”.
This is both useful and instructive for me – but also disheartening.
It’s useful and instructive because I gain insights into how some PR practitioners pitch to media, how they structure their email pitches, how they write their media releases and more.
But it’s disheartening because it shows the poor state of some media distribution lists. I am not a tech journalist – therefore why send me tech media releases? I am not an industrial relations journalist – so why send me … you get the picture.
Now, this post is not intended to give journalists fodder to complain about the public relations industry. Indeed, journalists shouldn’t quickly point the finger. One reason for this is – many of the culprits behind these misdirected emails are former journos who have leapt into PR. And that’s not all. Some of the senders are in fact, the media. The news media does indeed have its own PR professionals in-house (as it should, as any profit-making business competing against other brands) and my email address has made its way onto their distribution lists.
Pitching stories to media is one of the mainstay tasks of many PR consultants, and having great media lists is vital to surviving in the industry. And if you have multiple clients – running very different businesses, with different target audiences and objectives in mind – you’ll have a wide variety of media you want to pitch to. That means journalists working across newspapers, online, radio and TV; in sectors as varied as sports, politics, health, arts, cars, travel … and so on.
Media lists become more difficult to maintain because of the volatile nature of journalism – for example, journos changing their role or their beat or jumping to another outlet; or leaving the industry altogether.
So, media list maintenance is relentless, detailed work. It takes time.
Unfortunately, time-poor PR practitioners can be tempted to subscribe to media databases or to purchase media lists, from all sorts of sources. Some media databases are outstanding. Some are out of date, and far less accurate and targeted than they’d like. I’ve seen media databases which include the names of journos I know have retired years earlier.
I don’t use an external media database. To be honest, one factor is the cost.
So how do I pitch on behalf of my clients?
I research their sector, and research journalists and outlets who tend to cover my clients’ type of stories. It means subscribing to media, being a regular, loyal media consumer, and connecting to journos wherever you can in spaces like social media.
And I don’t do ‘email blasts’ or send media releases to a list that may contain 100+ email addresses. It’s too hit and miss. As evidenced by the many media releases sent to Prakky, which are deleted seconds later …