Too Many Media...Not Enough Time
Every quarter or so our PR agency brings on board a new account coordinator, an entry level position that assists teams with important tasks like helping with daily news searches, social media content for our clients and generally learning the ropes of public relations in a hands-on way. During their first week or so I’m asked to sit down with these fresh-faced folks for about an hour with the daunting task of defining “effective media relations.” But, what does that really mean?
One of my goals for our new hires is to take the emphasis off measuring success based on how many emails they can fire off in a given day and start to think about building relationships. In an ideal world, by the end of their tenure with Trevelino/Keller they could name at least one or two reporters that they’d feel comfortable contacting even if they didn’t have something to pitch. I challenge them to be a resource to reporters whether it’s for a client or to help look outside our agency’s walls to find sources and provide value.
This approach puts the emphasis back on the “relationship” part of media relations. However the basic blocking and tackling that is involved with identifying the right targets means you need to keep up with the often frenetic pace at which reporters move from beat to beat, outlet to outlet. Yesterday’s intern becomes tomorrow’s senior editor.
Luckily we’ve come a long way from old school directories to a world of robust tools that can mine real-time data and information and make it palatable for communications professionals.
My favorite tool for the past year or so is Muck Rack. As I explain to our new hires, this can’t entirely replace traditional databases but it offers timely and relevant information on reporters. It does this by mining in real time what topics reporters are discussing on Twitter and uses their online bios to help you better target the appropriate writers and editors. By simply knowing what’s top of mind for these individuals you can create the most relevant pitch possible. It’s also invaluable for simply getting the lay of the land for a client in a new space or tracking competitors.
So now you’ve found them, how do you keep track of who is going where? Every day we receive multiple emails tracking major media moves from MediaBistro, Bull Dog Reporter, Talking Biz News, etc. It’s enough to make your head spin. My personal approach is similar to basic networking: LinkedIn can be an invaluable resource to create introductions, stay connected when your contacts take on a new role or position, and it can also help identify additional contacts within an organization or publication. Once we are connected, I make a point to reach out to a writer with a “no-pitch-pitch” every once in a while. I ask them what they’re working on, how can I help? It goes a long way in building rapport and allowing for a two-way dialogue.
At the end of the day it can often feel like too many media, not enough time. Building mutually beneficial relationships is difficult in a world where writers, bloggers, reporters and editors play a constantly rotating game of musical chairs but staying on top of these tools make the game a little bit easier.
About Lauren Sullivan Shankman
Lauren is a two-time boomerang employee of Trevelino Keller where she currently serves as a senior media relations specialist. When she’s not pitching stories she’s playing taxi driver for three awesome kids or seeking ethnic eats with her husband.