As a PR intern or junior level staffer, it’s likely that one of your main tasks involves creating and updating media lists. I’m sure you groan every time you are about to start one and dream of the day when they are behind you.
Media lists aren’t all that bad, though. Here are five ways that building those lists makes you smarter than your peers and builds your PR skill set as a whole.
Strategy. Strategy in a media list? You bet your bottom dollar. Where to start? Where to look? What and whom to include? Where to end? Those are all questions specific to each list, and it’s up to you to figure it out. I’m not talking about jumping into your media database. That’s where you end. You begin where the action is happening. The papers, the blogs, the columns—that’s where the money is. Everything your team secures is built from this foundation. Using strategy in building your lists is prepping you for the years ahead of you.
Industry know-how. Because you are responsible for knowing whom to pitch, you are going to be much more aware of who is writing what for which outlet and what they’re talking about in the industry. Do you think anyone else has time to read relevant magazines or newspapers daily? Not that you do either, but it is part of your job—and if it isn’t, you should make it so. Before you know it, you’ll be spouting out pitch ideas you never thought you’d have and be seen as an expert in your client’s industry.
Media moves. This is where you can really show your value. You know who is no longer at a publication and who recently switched to a different beat. No one else has time to keep up with this, but it’s one of the most valuable pieces of info that anyone can hold. Own it, flaunt it, taunt it—this is knowledge others want. No PR team can succeed without it. These will also be names you’ll see revolving throughout your career. It’s good to get to know them early on.
Time management. Making a media list could easily suck up your whole day. And you’re in PR—you don’t have all day. There are stories to pitch, press kits to assemble, and social media sites to monitor. You have to work in when you can keep up with your media lists and put them together quickly and correctly. (The second part is the most important.) Reading the paper and news on your way to work; reading Cision and industry updates on a regular basis; reading magazines on the way home; entering changes regularly. This gets you into the rhythm of multitasking, and determining where to squeeze things in when you thought you couldn’t will help you in the future and give you a life outside the office.
Excel. To this generation, this tip might seem like a given, but let me tell you something: For every one thing you know how to do in Excel, there are about 100 that you don’t. Learn something every week, and you are saving time and upping your employee value immensely. Know it and own it, and you’ll be thankful.
Jennifer is co-founder and CEO of newly launched FlackList where media can easily search, source, connect and maintain relationships with PR reps and experts within a social network setting.