It goes without saying that to earn media you need a newsworthy story. But what good is an amazing story that has the potential to move your industry forward and better meet the needs of your customers if you have no way of getting it to the right people?
Media relations would sure be a heck of a lot more difficult if PR pros didn’t have a reliable way to find journalists, smart pitching strategies, and a method for tracking coverage.
In a previous PR Daily article, “Why You Should Invest in Media Monitoring,” we covered the last item on that list, so this time we’re going to look at PR’s other power tool: the media database. When used efficiently, a media database saves you a lot of time, energy, and work.
If you don’t have a media database at all or are working with a basic platform (one that doesn’t include integrated distribution), here are four reasons you should consider investing in an advanced platform:
1. It keeps track of journalists and influencers, so you don’t have to.
The media landscape is constantly shifting. It would be a full-time job (and then some) for anyone to keep up with the myriad moves, job changes, beat changes, new hires and transfers. Throw the ongoing pandemic into the mix and keeping track of journalist moves becomes all the more difficult.
By choosing a media database, you’re handing off this exhausting work to a team of professional researchers who make thousands (if not millions) of edits to their media database every year to make sure it’s relevant and up to date.
2. It allows you to hyper-target journalists using keyword search.
Beat, region and outlet are all valuable search methods, but keywords will help you find the journalists that fall into these two categories:
- They write for several publications about different subjects.
- They have a specific beat but also a personal area of interest.
If you’re having trouble finding suitable media contacts or want to include more non-traditional journalists in your search (think bloggers and podcasters), keyword search allows you to find niche journalists who might not cover a conventional beat or subject.
Keywords also allow you to carefully prune your list. Instead of reaching out to all journalists in a broad category like “fishing,” you can specify that you only want journalists who write about “freshwater fly fishing” or “commercial fishing”, allowing you to narrow in on a subset of contacts who are more relevant to the story you’re pitching.
3. It offers preliminary research through collected articles and social media activity.
Every experienced PR pro knows that they can’t begin and end research with a media database.
However, having a starting point for research by including a contact’s collected articles and social media activity is a big help. Without needing to do any extensive digging, you’ll be able to quickly see who isn’t a relevant contact and who deserves a closer look.
4. It makes outreach and follow up easier with built-in distribution
This is where an advanced media database really sets itself apart from a basic version. Integrated outreach makes media relations a dream. Once you’ve built your list (a hyper-targeted, well-researched, relevant-contacts-only list) you can easily send them all a personalized email.
A good media database will also provide you with a dashboard so you can see how your email performed by tracking opens, clicks and bounce backs. This will allow you to follow up with the journalists who showed interest by opening or clicking but may need a little nudge or reminder.
Now that you’re geared up and ready to begin your search for that perfect media database, here are five questions to keep in mind when speaking with a potential vendor:
How many unique journalists and influencers does the database have in your industry? In your region?
Beware of bloat. Make sure the database doesn’t count a single journalist who works for three outlets as three separate contacts. Also, check that they contain the type of influencers and journalists you want to reach—if it’s a digital-only database but you want to reach broadcast and print journalists, then it’s probably not the right database for you. Better to invest in one tool than split your money across several.
Is the database global?
Some databases specialize and focus on markets, regions, or industries. Your business goals will determine which type of database you need.
How often is contact information updated and new contacts added?
Ideally, the answer is every day. A well-tended media database will help ensure your email gets where it needs to go.
Can you request research into new contacts in a niche market?
How far is your database willing to go for you? Some vendors will do custom research and find contacts that are not currently included in the database if you are looking for a niche market.
How easy and intuitive is the tool?
It shouldn’t take an engineering degree to figure out how to work your database. This is supposed to be a time-saving tool and if you can’t easily navigate the database and its functions, perhaps it’s not the best investment.
Joy Knowles is a marketing content strategist with Agility PR Solutions.