How to Create the Perfect Media List
By Damon Carson
A media list is simply a list, usually in spreadsheet form, of all the media contacts you want to pitch your story to. Although assembling such a list can be time-consuming, it’s worth the effort. Knowing your target audience – in this case reporters, editors, producers or bloggers – will improve the likelihood your story will be picked up.
There are different ways to put a media list together depending on how much time you want to take and how much money you want to spend. You can shell out several thousand dollars a year for a media database service, or you can compile your own lists from scratch.
My first media list was unbelievably crude. While my methodology was unsophisticated, the results were fantastic. My efforts focused on periodicals or trade publications because the contacts for this type of media are usually the easiest to obtain.
Some magazines will have e-mail addresses for editors, either in the print edition, online or both. When they don’t, you have to do a little sleuthing.
I went a Borders bookstore with a notepad and pen. One by one, I pulled each magazine that I thought might have interest in the story of my company, Kiddie Rides USA.
I flipped to the magazine’s masthead, the page usually just after the table of contents where the names of editors, writers, photographers and others are listed. I jotted down the first and last name of each editor. I also wrote down the name of the organization that published the magazine, which often is different than the name of the publication. My list took up multiple pages, but I had the info I needed. The next step was to find the e-mail addresses.
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Here is how it’s done:
From the masthead we know two things: 1) the editor’s name, and 2) the name of the company that publishes the magazine. Most e-mail addresses are some combination of a person’s name. For example, the editor of Inventors Digest is Mike Drummond. His e-mail address likely has a variation of the following: mdrummond@; miked@; mikedrummond@; mike_drummond@ or mike.drummond@ (the latter is the actual construction).
The second part of the e-mail address is the name of the domain that hosts the e-mail accounts.
So, in finding the e-mail address for each editor we have two objectives: 1) we need to find out the combination that each respective magazine uses for their names, and 2) what the domain name is for their server.
I almost always start with the domain name.
I’ll go to the Web site of the magazine. Typically in the contact section you can find some e-mail address, such as email@example.com. That is a pretty good clue that @inventorsdigest.com is the domain.
Many times with magazines, however, the server is actually the name of publishing company and not the domain of the Web site.
At Family Circle magazine, for example, the e-mail server for editors is that of the publishing company, Meredith. The e-mail format is @meredith. Once you know that, you’ll be able to easily e-mail any editor for any magazine that Meredith publishes.
Simple put “@meredith.com” into a Google or Bing search. This will pull up results where “@meredith.com” is listed on the Internet. Many of these will be e-mail addresses. You’ll be able to look at a few e-mail addresses and figure out how Meredith combines each person’s name into a unique e-mail address.
In the case of any Meredith editor, they use firstname.lastname@example.org. So, if you jotted down 12 editors names while you were at Borders for Family Circle, you can quickly type them into your spreadsheet.
You repeat this process for each of the magazine titles on your list.
Another trick is to type an editor’s name into a search engine. Make sure to put the name in quote marks. The editor you’re looking for may have attended a tradeshow. Maybe the tradeshow put the editor’s name on its list buried on some Web site. That tradeshow also may have listed the names and e-mails of editors from other publications. If so, you’ve found a hidden treasure.
It’s amazing how fast you can build your list with the help of the Internet.
So, now that you’re armed with these tips, there are no excuses for not spending a little time to compile a media list and the get word out about your invention.
For more helpful PR tips, visit Damon Carson’s Web site, www.publicityassociates.com
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Editor’s note: This article appears in the September 2010 print edition.