12 Best Practices to Maintain a Media Contact List

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You built your media list, had an exciting news story, and heard nothing but crickets. When that happens, you might feel like PR has been a complete failure, but it’s not.

Often, a few simple tweaks can make the difference between a campaign that falls flat and one that goes viral. If you have a media contact list and want to make the most of it, here are twelve best practices to try.

1. Email List Segmentation

Segmentation is all about organizing your email contacts, and it’s one of the best ways to get results from your media contact list.

You can do this in any way that suits your business. Nevertheless, you should always sort it into categories that offer an advantage when running PR campaigns to your media contacts.

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For example, you might want to categorize contacts by industry to send niche marketing material that is more targeted to that business sector.

Or suppose you have a contact list of journalists. In that case, you may want to group these into different specialisms to help tailor your PR pitches based on each journalist’s primary focus.

For example, your email campaigns will be more effective if you send changes in personnel news to HR journalists and new product innovations to technology journalists.

2. Carry Out Regular Media List Management

Since building a media contact list takes time, you may be hesitant to make changes to it or remove contacts. However, updating a contact list is essential.

Remember that the media industry is dynamic. It’s not about the numbers on your list but having the right people on that list. Sending information to old contacts won’t help you get results.

Therefore, make a habit of regularly reviewing the list and pruning it like you would a tree. Monthly or quarterly reviews are ideal.

If you don’t hear from someone, use sources like LinkedIn or industry newsletters to check that the contact is still in the same role. Sending emails to the right contacts will mark you as professional and diligent.

3. Check the Contact Details You Hold

It’s not only the contact’s name that matters in your media list. You also need to ensure you have all the correct contact details for each person.

Without that, you’ll find problems such as bounced emails, which can become time-consuming when tracking down the correct address and resending information.

When you are cleaning and updating your list, use this time to check all the details you have for that person and ensure they are accurate.

It’s also a valuable opportunity to add new information about that contact to your file. Perhaps they have a relevant new social media account, for example.

4. Focus on Media Relations Management

While you may have an extensive list in front of you, don’t think of it as data.

Remember that behind each of those contacts is a person, and successful media management is all about relationship building. So work on nurturing that relationship, keeping in regular contact, and focusing on personal, one-to-one interactions.

All relationships are two-way, so look at what you can do for that person if you want to use their connections and media reach in the future. Comment on their articles and share their content.

If you have a news story, offer exclusive access to them. That will help you develop trust and goodwill.

5. Invest in a CRM Tool

Excel spreadsheets can only do so much. Manual data handling is cumbersome and time-consuming, so when you start to build an extensive contact list, switch to using a professional CRM tool.

That doesn’t mean you have to invest thousands of dollars in an enterprise-level solution. Find a tool that matches your needs, and there are plenty to choose from on the market.

The most important thing to remember is that a good CRM tool should save you time and keep your contact data safe.

When you use it to manage media contacts, you should start to see a return on investment, such as an improvement in your response rate.

6. Avoid Generic Pitches

We’ve already spoken about the importance of segmenting your list. But that’s not all you need to do. Once your contacts are categorized, use this to your advantage by sending personalized pitches.

Journalists and media professionals can spot a generic copy-and-paste pitch, and your email is more likely to go unread. However, if you can add a personal touch to your pitch, you’ll stand out from the crowd and be more likely to get a positive response.

Conduct comprehensive research into each contact for effective personalization and ensure this information is stored in your CRM. For example, keep a list of their most popular articles and refer to them when making your pitch.

7. Network to Grow Your List

As you grow your list, you may feel the numbers are sufficient for your needs.

However, this is not a time to rest. Lists and contacts evolve, so you should always make an effort to grow that list, and one of the best ways to do that is via networking events.

In-person events like industry seminars and conferences are ideal. You could meet some fresh faces who can offer a new perspective and angle. Always carry some business cards.

Don’t forget about online events, too. They’ve become increasingly popular since COVID-19. For example, an event via Twitter (X) can help you find contacts in different sectors than before, broadening your reach.

8. Ask Your Contacts About Their Preferences

Every journalist has a different way of working. You will generate some goodwill by asking your contacts about their preferences.

Some may prefer to do everything by phone. Others, meanwhile, will choose to keep track of all communications via email. Never assume, as everyone has their personal take on this.

Ask them directly when you first add their contact details.

If the journalist prefers to maintain contact via phone, ensure you keep other relevant information in your CRM, such as times and days when it’s suitable for you to call.

Respecting people’s time and preferences will help you get better response rates.

9. Improve Your Reach Via Social Media

Social media is a great way to improve your PR strategy and relationship with the media. Places like LinkedIn and X are the perfect places to network and connect with contacts about news stories, articles, or features.

Pay attention to the information your contacts share on social media. That will tell you much about the types of stories they like and how you can create an exciting angle to pitch to them in the future.

You can also use social media messaging tools to keep media contacts updated. Tell them about your ideas for potential stories or about future dates that might be of interest.

10. Think About the Quality of Your Pitch

A pitch may be a marketing skill, and you’ll need to be able to sell a story. But think about this from another angle, too. The pitches must be engaging and well-written to add value and capture people’s attention.

Use words that grab interest, like exclusive access and new research, and include expert voices. Use high-quality visuals, too.

The content should excite journalists enough that they can visualize and showcase it to the world. Remember that it’s their job to add value to their readers, so you need to convince them that your story has plenty of value.

11. Get Feedback

Not every campaign will run smoothly.

Sometimes, the response rate will be well below what you expected. But remember that everything is a learning opportunity, and you can gain as much value from a failed campaign as you can from a successful one.

To do that, you need a feedback mechanism to tell you what to improve.

Ask your contacts to be honest about why they didn’t pick up a news story and what you could have done differently. Get in the habit of doing this as soon as you can after each PR event.

12. Use Analytics Tools

Modern analytics tools are one of the most valuable assets at your disposal when it comes to PR. It can give you an insight that will help you make long-term improvements to future media campaigns.

Measure metrics such as open rates and click-through rates on any email campaign you begin, and look at conversion rates in detail to see if you can spot some patterns.

For example, suppose a specific type of journalist didn’t respond to your campaign. In that case, it may be that the topic wasn’t suitable, which is why you can look at segmenting your list.

Getting the Most from Your Media Contact List

PR has the potential to be one of your most effective marketing tools. However, building a media contact list is only the first step. You need to make the most of this list, so use these tips to help guide you.

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Our powerful database of 1.7 million media contacts gives small businesses the most effective way to launch their PR campaigns. Talk to an editor now to begin your journey with us.

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