Category Archives: Media relations

Target Practice

This is for you on-the-brink PRos who started following me lately on Twitter (I see you, UO seniors!)… and started following some of coworkers too. Weird.

picture-13When you have actual clients with actual stories, actual messaging, actual news, actual crises, actual partnerships, actual funding announcements, actual business-development, and actual launches, you need to know who is going to want to know about it. This requires a bit of digging on your part and I only bring it up because, yes, it’ll be YOU (the young PRo) who is expected to do it. Here are some tricks to finding “targets” so you don’t flounder and waste 3 weeks on a media list that you could have polished up in one if you’d had the right arsenal.

FIRST (and very importantly) Engagement:

  • Be reading a lot of stories/blogs. All the time.
  • Follow any reporter’s Twitter feed that you come across.
  • Know what’s going on in the news. All the time.

Finding targets (media contacts that you’ll eventually pitch):

  1. GOOGLE (duh – I know.): But how do you search? First off, competitors – see who’s writing about your vein in whatever industry you’re into. Second, product/company functions – what does your company do, who do they serve, who are their partners? See who’s writing about that as well. Google alerts: With great keywords you can find some fantastic news/blog targets.
  2. COMPETITORS: I know I mentioned it above, but this time, go straight to the source. Sometimes the best way to know who is going to write about you, is by checking your competitor’s press page. See who wrote that USA Today piece they’re boasting.
  3. SPECIFIC PUBLICATIONS: Do a search within the publication, much like your Google search – keywords on your topic and industry– to see who there is writing or reporting (or assigning) on your topic or if they do the kinds of stories you’re hoping to get (ie: funding stories, long-lead features…).
  4. TWITTER: Great place to find reporters or people talking to or about reporters (ie: “@so-n-so wrote a great piece on…”). Also, reporters will often talk about stories they’re working on and sometimes, if you’re lucky, they’ll have an open call for interesting leads. Twitter’s also great place to interact with reporters. They like knowing who you are, what you do, what you’re into.
  5. STUMBLE-UPON: Within this Firefox add-on, you can stumble through certain channels. I work in tech so I’ll do a stumble-through of tech sites and often find cool bloggers or podcasters.
  6. COMMENTS ON POSTS: Bloggers and reporters often chime in on each other’s posts as part of that community – in tech, you see this a lot on ReadWriteWeb and Lifehacker. It’s pretty cool to see their engagement, but it also gives you a chance to see what bloggers are into and what they might think of products similar to yours.

…So you’ve found your targets, what now?

Vetting Targets – Make sure they’re relevant to go after so you don’t look stupid for pitching them something that’s not in their beat.

  • Google them: Again, duh – but Google can sometimes be the quickest way to find out if they’re still at that publication
  • LinkedIn: Check out their profile, yes, they may be a staff-writer, but how long have they been in that position and on that beat? L.I. can often give you some insight into what and how they’re used to writing.
  • Check past work: Find other articles, blog posts, blurbs so that you can get a sense of their writing style, perhaps their interviewing style.
  • Check their Twitter feeds: Weirdly, some reporters don’t like PR people. See how they interact with them on Twitter, see if they talk about them – Yes, reporters and PR people alike can get very public (and very nasty sometimes) about their relationships on Twitter. Very important to see how they’d take being pitched.


What I’d love here is some feedback– maybe from my coworkers or team members? Also, any tips out there that I might have missed. Good luck.