Thursday, January 12, 2012

Creating a media list with zero $

I was asked the question: I have no money for a PR agency and need to get in touch with the media to promote my brand. How do I put together a media list?

We created our media list without any budget at all, so it is possible. Here are some tips I learnt: The great news is that you don't need a PR agency to build an exciting media list. I will confess that in markets where I am not well-networked I would consider this to be a good approach, but there are plenty of other ways to go about this without paying a monthly retainer. Remember through this whole process, you want to make a very relevant media list.

Here's how I made ours: make a list of the media outlets you want to be covered by. Then, pick up recent issues, episodes or posts and get to know the outlet. Specifically, get to know the style and tone and think through how your brand could relate to the outlet's audience. Try and get a sense of what the editor is interested in and what each of the writers cover. Remember, while it would be incredible to be picked up and championed by the editor, they are not the person your pitch should be going to. Instead, look for writers that cover your category or feature writers. Once you have identified these people, then go to the outlet's website and do some sleuthing to find their direct email address. There are some databases online through which you can pick up writers email addresses, but they are often a paid service so if you have more time than money put on your detective hat!

It's also worth making some educated guesses - if you know the format of the email addresses for that organisation, you can probably make a fairly educated guess as to what that writers email address will be. ;)

Another method of building your media list is to do a media event with a brand who has a media list you'd love to get a hold of! This is also a great way to be personally introduced to the people on that list. The only thing that I would caveat here is that editors and writers are asked to go to a lot of media events, so make sure that there is a very compelling reason for them to attend yours. Also invite strategically - it's likely that senior writers field invitations all of the time, but is there someone more junior who has influence on content, but isn't receiving these invitations and would love the chance to attend an event or two?

When we first started Shoes of Prey some very generous friends gave me their media lists, however I quickly learnt that the value of your media list can really only be measured by the relationships that you have with the people on it. So, once you have compiled it, develop more memorable and personal relationships by: being introduced to the person by someone whom already has a relationship with them; finding a way to introduce yourself to the person; finding unobtrusive ways to stay in contact; find valuable reasons to stay in contact.

Once you have a established your media list and you have a good snapshot of their content, start to marry this up with the messages that you want to appear in the media about your business and be creative! Your best pitches will be the ones that create a newsworthy story that would only require very little from the writer to run it as a story. Good luck!

This was cross-posted to Smarter Business Ideas


  1. Awesome post Jodie! Really good tips

    I've personally found Twitter to be incredibly useful for reaching out and connecting to writers and editors.

    Tools like Followerwonk allow you to search through twitter profiles for keywords so it helps with investigating which journos you want to get in contact with.

    Following them on Twitter for a while before you pitch to them also helps with knowing what their personality is like, what projects they are on and other info that could help you tailor your story angle and time your press release at the right time.

    Once I've sent through Press Releases, Twitter has been great for following up when you don't have a direct phone number to the journo. My response rate for follow up through twitter is 90% :)

    So yeah, social media is definitely a good tool to have for startup PR.

  2. Wow thanks Jodie, some really good tips!

    After that initial 'we've launched' campaign, how did you find a way to keep your key media continuously interested in SOP?