When I was rock music editor for the Minneapolis weekly Twin Cities Reader, the bane of my existence was . . . public relations people. Mind you, not ALL public relations people. Just the PR staffers who would flood my desk with absurdly off-target news releases who thought I must be obsessed with their clients’ breakthroughs in industrial sandpaper, Fresnel lenses, and composite, high-performance aircraft materials.
Given that my actual news beat was covering The Clash, The Rolling Stones and Joan Jett (check out my press pass at right!), I was amused at how agencies were sending me press releases that were of no interest to me. I imagined these firms reporting back to their clients, “Yes, it’s only a matter of time before that reporter in Minneapolis covers your launch of a new steel-belted, water-cooled hydraulic lathe. We’ll keep after Maccabee relentlessly. As God is our witness, a day won’t go by that this poor soul doesn’t receive another press release from us.”
Now that I’ve morphed from journalist to public relations guy, I’m aware of how vital it is to target precisely the right reporter – so you avoid becoming the PR pro who pitches the launch of a new Caramel Coconut Cherry ice cream flavor to a reporter who is dedicated to covering Islamic fundamentalism in Qatar.
What follows is a guide to how our PR agency (and your PR staff) can go Sherlock on the media: to better understand their beats, make it more likely the writer will be interested in your story, alert you to any conflicts they might have and identify traits that could forge a bond between the reporter and your executive (wait – both your company’s CEO and the editor in question share an obsessive love for Jimi Hendrix bootlegs? Shazam!). First, we start with. . .
Cision, the King Kong of media relations directories, swells with 1.6 million media contacts (including 300,000 digital influencers) in its searchable database. It’s important to note that much of Cision’s data is provided by the media themselves, and is by its nature both broad and shallow. You receive the basics, such as the journalist’s name, email address, phone number, beat, pitching tips, and contact methods. But, if a given reporter is said to cover healthcare or business, your PR staff must augment Cision’s intelligence with other resources, such as…
While many PR pros use Google Alerts to receive updates on articles filed by journalists on a topic, I’m partial to the real-time updates from Muck Rack. For your reference, here’s a sample Muck Rack profile page on the Wall Street Journal, with clickable links to bios and recent articles published by WSJ staff. We sought out Greg Galant (pictured right), CEO of Muck Rack and a former associate producer on CNN, to explain how the platform works:
“When the big Bacon’s PR Directory (now Cision) came out in 1952, it was innovative then,” muses Galant, “But the media landscape today is so Go to the full article.