Getting media coverage isn’t just about stroking your ego; it’s about getting people to trust your business and what you sell. We all know that people Google a brand before they actually buy it and it’s articles and reviews they’re looking for. So naturally, if they find positive stories written by third parties, like journalists, you’re on to a winner.
So the question is, should you try doing your own PR? Well nobody knows the ins and outs of your business like you do so the answer is yes, absolutely. Often the first thing a business owner will say to me when I suggest they do their own PR is, “But I don’t have any media contacts.”
A PR’s Black Book can often be viewed a little like the Holy Grail – a mysterious bible of media contacts that they’ve magically acquired through knowing the right spell cast.
Yes, that list of contacts is the result of years of building relationships (or perhaps from a really expensive subscription to a media database) but the thing to remember is that everyone starts somewhere and things have changed; journalists actually want to be contacted now, particularly by founders, so they often publish their email addresses so they can be found easily.
So how do you go about finding the right media to contact?
Well first up, you need to do a bit of research. One of the keys to getting your story covered is making sure you’re targeting the right person with the right story idea.
Journalists hate nothing more than a generalised pitch, and they will know if you’re sending a mass email. You need to adapt your pitch to each person you’re contacting and show firstly that you know what they like to write about and secondly that you’ve thought about how your story fits in.
Here’s a fast rundown on how you can find media contacts for yourself. We’ve even prepared a quick video showing a search in action.
For magazines, the contact details will be listed in the front of the mag.
For newspapers and online, the best way to find contacts is to:
- Google the outlet you want to get into, then
- Search the category relevant to you, then
- Find a story similar to yours and see who wrote that story
- Click on the journalist’s name and look at the other stories they have written.
- Check to see when they last wrote a story and if it’s in the last few weeks you can be sure they are still there.
Also look at LinkedIn to see what they list their current job as just to make sure.
See if there is an email address next to the writer’s name if not, check Twitter, as sometimes they will include it in their bio.
If you still can’t find their email address, look for the ‘contact us’ or ‘about us’ page and call up the switch desk and ask for it. In most cases, they will give it to you.
For radio and TV, you can call the switch desk for the station and ask for the email address of the producers on each program or the expert that runs the segment on your topic (eg tech, food & drink, health etc).
It’s really not hard to do and it doesn’t take long at all. Each time you find a contact, record their details in an excel spreadsheet with a note on the kind of stories they run so you remember for next time.
About Your Guest Blogger: Jocelyne Simpson is the co-founder of I Do My Own PR, an online tool that enables small businesses to do their own PR. She is also co-founder of PR agency, Good Citizens.
She has 20 years of PR experience advising and running PR accounts for some of the world’s most loved brands like Coca-Cola, American Express, LEGO as well as countless startups and small businesses.