We wrote a series of blog posts five years ago about our picks for PR media monitoring, databases and wire services which became a resource for clients and colleagues alike. This year, we’re updating that blog series to share our experience, hindsight and timeliest tips for your agency or in-house PR department to determine the optimal vendors for your distinct needs.
In case you missed it, here’s part 1 of the new series which focuses on the best media monitoring tools for your business.
Media databases are a crucial tool for public relations.
It doesn’t matter how disruptive your product or service is, how much it will improve people’s lives and the world at large or how effective the message in your announcement is if you don’t have a way to find the right journalists, influencers and other members of the media with accurate and up-to-date contact details.
If you aren’t sure what kind of contact is right for your message, ask yourself where your audience hangs out online or what you like to read within your industry. From journalists to influencers, different contacts offer distinct advantages. Despite increasing cries of “fake news,” journalists tend to have the credibility of their profession and the authority of the outlet they work for behind them. On the other hand, influencers have built trust with their followers and can be critical in generating word-of-mouth interest or building awareness. An authentic recommendation from a real person can have an incredible impact.
Building a Media List
Media lists are one of the most important tools in a PR pro’s tool belt because they provide a central, organized place for you to find — and connect with — the most relevant and best-fitting media contacts for your organization or campaign.
More than just a list of potential journalists, reporters, influencers, bloggers and social media personalities to reach out to, media lists should be organized for the specific verticals you want to communicate your message to (e.g., national, local, technology, mommy bloggers, etc.). Additionally, when done right, media lists also provide contact details so that you can reach out to your contact, topics the contact is interested in or has produced content about so that you’re targeting them with relevant information and links to their social media profiles so you can get to know them better and engage with them more.
Using a media database to create a list is just a first step. Databases are useful to supplement contact details. While it’s tempting to think that once you’ve built your media list, you’re good to go, the reality is that media lists are never “finished” — they require ongoing research, verification and management to ensure they remain robust and accurate.
Selecting the Right Database
The best databases help you search for (and find) the most relevant journalists and influencers, and the best ones allow you to discover their interests and know what they’re writing about so you can personalize your pitch and actually reach the journalist, which increases the likelihood you’re able to land that elusive earned media hit.
As far as functionality is concerned, even basic databases provide the information that makes it easy to search for media contacts based on keywords, their beat (what they write about), region, type of media (radio, print, broadcast and so on), etc. Many will also let you save your lists and/or the search criteria for future use. More advanced functionality might include distribution capabilities that allow PR folks to personalize and send emails to the contacts on their lists. However, in order to benefit from email tracking through these platforms, you have to “spray and pray” (no personalized messages), plus the address it comes from is still not quite yours. As such, there are distinct disadvantages.
When it comes to deciding on a media database, one major factor to consider is the number of journalists and influencers available. Another consideration includes the accuracy of the information within the database. While companies that maintain a database of reporters and influencers are working constantly to have updated information, if the contact information is old or inaccurate, utilizing (and paying for) the database is a waste of your time and money. Smaller, localized companies likely won’t need a comprehensive database as only a few reporters, bloggers and influencers will be relevant to their operations. On the other hand, for larger organizations that might operate in multiple industries or have different publics to communicate with, media databases are vital to managing a broad array of media lists.
- Some media databases to consider:
- Cision — Large, comprehensive database allows modern PR professionals to target key influencers, distribute strategic content, and track and measure meaningful impact through text and images.
- Meltwater — Meltwater’s media database allows users to filter journalists using a name search and filters by beat, geography, publication, role, etc. so that they know what reporters are actually writing about.
- Agility PR — Database of over 860,000 media contacts enables users to find the most pertinent influencers for your brand by keyword — whether it’s niche markets, industries, competitors or anything else.
- PressRush — The journalist search engine continuously monitors media outlets and updates reporter profiles as they publish new stories to provide the latest information.
As always, when selecting your database, do your research — check online for ratings, reviews, case studies and other resources, see if the vendor offers a demonstration, ask for a week-long trial to test out features, make sure that they are user-friendly and find out whether the solution will work for you.
What’s your favorite database? Let us know in the comments. Stay tuned for the conclusion of this blog series as the next post will cover the best wire services for distributing your message.