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Have You Checked Your Utility’s Media Lists Recently?

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At the media company I work for, there are six editor positions, one of which I fill.

Until recently, the same six people held those jobs for a couple years. But one editor has left the company, another’s last day is today, a third is leaving at the end of the month and a fourth severely injured himself in a fall, leaving uncertainty about when he will return.

In addition, we’re short a reporter or two, which seems to be a constant condition.

Journalism is a rapidly changing field, but people in general don’t stay at one job for a lifetime any more. In 31 years since graduating college, I’ve held 10 jobs, with the longest stay being seven years.

What does this have to do with your utility? Potentially a lot.

If your public relations team is trying to get in touch with editors and reporters who have moved on, they aren’t going to have a lot of success and are wasting their time.

I hear all the time from PR people who call looking for staffers that haven’t been at my paper for several years, then wonder why their calls aren’t returned or their emails bounce back.

There’s a pretty simple solution: Maintain and update your media database. Have low-level staffers or, better yet, interns do this on a regular basis — every three months is ideal, but every six months is probably OK, too.

The database should include names, phone numbers (office and cell, if possible), email addresses and social media handles. You should also include a notes column, which details the journalist’s interests and other tidbits, such as preferred method of contact.

Much of the information is readily available on media outlets websites, so it’s a matter of simple research. Other information you’ll collect over time.

If you don’t want to build your own database, you can also consider subscribing to a database platform such as Cision, Muck Rack or Melt Water. These can save you time and also allow you to customize your media lists if you ever have to reach out to outlets that are outside your usual purview.

The drawback, of course, is that these databases are pricey. And, from personal experience, I’ve noticed that they often are outdated or incomplete. But they are definitely a valuable tool.

So, the choice is yours, but it’s imperative you keep of track of media members.

Andy Gotlieb's picture

Thank Andy for the Post!

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