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4 Ways to Determine if You’ve Selected the Right Media Contact
Want to land press?
Well, one of the most important steps in being able to land a media feature happens before you ever even hit send on your email pitch. In fact, it comes before you even draft the body of the pitch itself. Before you rack your brain trying to come up with THE perfect subject line, and before you plot the perfect time and day of the week to send.
One of the biggest factors that separate those who are successful in landing press, from those who aren’t, all stems back to their media list. And simply having a media list isn’t enough. You must have the RIGHT media list full of the RIGHT media contacts. So, how can one even begin to narrow down who is worthy of media list inclusion?
Here are 4 things to check to determine if you’ve selected the right media contact for your list.
1. Check Their Title
Whether you’re headed straight to an outlet masthead, or you found an article and clicked through to the writer after the fact, the very first thing you should do when vetting media contacts is check their title. What titles should you go for? It depends (I know I know, I wish it were black and white too, trust me.)
A media professional’s title is indicative of both the role they serve at an outlet and their hierarchy within the organization internally. Thus, it’s important to understand the different media and newsroom functions by title. Here are a few to get you started.
- Editor-in-Chief – The Editor-in-Chief of an outlet is the “top of the pyramid” and thus 9 times out of 10 are NOT the correct contact to target.
- Managing Editors – an editor in executive and supervisory charge of all editorial activities of a publication (such as a newspaper).
- Editors / Assistant Editors – editors often develop content ideas and assign stories to writers. They also read content submissions, editing for spelling, punctuation and grammar… amongst other duties.
- Contributors – Contributors produce content for outlets on occasion. They are not full-time employees of the outlet; often, they are paid on a project by project basis.
- Staff Writers – They write and produce content for an outlet – they report to an editor and often have to pitch their own story ideas for approval. Unlike contributors, they are in-house staff of an outlet or publication.
There are far more titles than those listed above, but those are a sprinkling of some of the most traditional and common titles you will see. When you are looking to build your media list, pay attention to the title of the contact and make sure they are at the level you want to target.
2. Check their Beat
Beyond their title, check their beat – which sometimes is also in their title, but not always. A beat is the topic or category in which they write. So, for example, someone might cover the technology beat, or the fashion beat, etc. Make sure that any media contacts that make it onto your media list are within a beat that is relevant to your company or client.
3. Look at the TYPE of articles they publish
A lot of people will miss this step, but it’s equally as important as checking their title and beat. Once you’ve determined that the title and beat are a fit, head to the contact’s author page to look through the TYPE of articles they publish. For example, do they only do round-ups? Feature pieces? Self-sourced thought leadership write-ups? If you’re looking for a specific type of coverage, make sure it’s a story type that falls within the writer’s repertoire.
4. Look at the frequency and date of recent publishing
AND finally, the last thing to audit before a contact makes it onto your list has to do with dates. Specifically, reviewing the frequency of their publishing (do they personally publish once a week, once a month, etc.) and then the dates of their most recent pieces. If a writer hasn’t produced anything in 6-months, then it’s probably safe to say “pass.”
Whether you recently bought a pre-built media list, have access to a PR directory, or you’re building your own list from scratch, it’s absolutely imperative to audit and check the above elements before proceeding forward in the pitching process. While it might sound (and can be) a bit time-consuming in the moment, it will prove instrumental to the effectiveness of your overall pitching strategy.