Ever land a cover story from a Twitter pitch? Newsjack breaking news from a Facebook feed? Secure a blog column on a critical e-zine website?  If not, it’s time to kick up your PR skills a notch or two.

The PR industry continues to shift like Tony Stewart at a Daytona race, and it impacts EVERY area of our job: pitching, monitoring, placements, bylines and media relations. If you aren’t scrambling to keep up and constantly learning new skills, there’s no time like the present to jump in – and a fantastic starting point is evaluating how you build your media lists.

After all, media lists are the foundation of your PR relationships; the trigger for the entire PR process.  Social media tools can amplify your lists to an entirely new level.

 

HOW TO BUILD A STELLAR MEDIA LIST USING SOCIAL MEDIA

Instead of throwing your pitch into the great black unknown, you want to lob it directly to the person that writes about that specific topic, at the right time, using means most likely to get their attention (email, Twitter, etc., depending on their preference).

While this strategy is a basic PR 101 tactic that everyone in public relations should know, the entire process is thrown off track if the first part – pitching to the right person – is out of alignment. Social media can help.

 

1. BUILD YOUR LIST TWICE. Once you’ve spent time building a brilliant, targeted list – go build it again using social media. Don’t simply add Twitter handles to your list. Track down each key reporter’s entire social media presence to find out where the opportunities and conversations are happening for them as an individual.

Once you identify where they prefer to “hang out” in the social media world, tailor your efforts accordingly.

Are they constantly pitching source requests on Twitter, or do they create pinboards on Pinterest revolving around stories they work on or topics that interest them? Follow them where they are most active in seeking sources and monitor their activity.

Understanding their preferred social media environment allows you to craft YOUR efforts to their preferences – increasing the odds of success.

Don’t be a stalker, but monitor and be relevant when opportunities arise. For example, this image was pulled from a Facebook group for PR professionals and journalists in Arizona, and an easy placement win for a PR professional with a restaurant client who met the reporter’s need.

 

2. TAKE ADVANTAGE OF TWITTER LISTS. Want a simple, FREE way to find journalists looking for story resources?  HARO and Profnet are not the only resources you should be using. Twitter is one of the most powerful pitching resources available today, and Twitter lists are often overlooked by PR professionals.  You don’t need to be following a Twitter user to add them to a list, and your list can be completely private – making it an invaluable research and monitoring tool. (Click here to learn how to build a list.)

You can build lists specific to an industry and/or a client. For example, if you have a client that manufacturers and sells solar panels for residential use, you could have one list following sustainability reporters, a second list following solar competition in your state, a third list following “green” lifestyle media and a fourth list following local real estate, construction and home builder media.

It is also a fantastic way to monitor client competition, or follow industry news for each client in a segmented manner.

If you are a HootSuite user, you can set up a column for each list to make monitoring simple. Setting up your lists doesn’t help if you don’t follow through and monitor the activity, watching closely for editorial opportunities.

In addition to lists, be sure and set up columns tracking specific hashtag keywords (such as #realestate or #solarnews) in HootSuite, or a similar tool. It can help you identify new Twitter users to add to a list and catch tweets you might otherwise miss.


3. UNDERSTAND BLOGGERS & THEIR SPECIFIC FORMAT. Bloggers are different than journalists and typically come in two garden varieties: (1) writers sharing their passion and/or building credibility with no direct revenue from their site, or (2) those making money from their blog through advertising and/or ancillary product sales.

Each type of blogger should be approached differently, and you should know which type they are BEFORE reaching out to make contact. (See this great infographic for some interesting demographics on bloggers.0

Corporate and hobbyist bloggers are typically writers that couldn’t care less about pitches, press releases, story ideas and PR people, and they rarely publish guest blog posts. Blogs that are NOT self-hosted on the blogger’s own URL typically fall into this category and should be removed from your list. Reaching out to these types of bloggers are often a waste of time. If their contact information is deliberately left off their website, take the hint and leave them alone.

Bloggers who make money off advertising are completely different. Their blogs are content hungry beasts who need to be fed constantly, and they are in search of high-value content that can drive traffic to their blog.

They may be an e-zine (online magazine) format with multiple authors and robust guest post opportunities, such as Search Engine Land, or it may be a single person blog (like Design Sponge) with consistent, frequent posts who makes their living from their website and related product/book sales.

As you build your list, be sure to evaluate each blog individually and identify its type. Advertising-driven blogs are fantastic opportunities for posting comments, and for securing guest post or columnist opportunities. They are worth the same time and attention you would lavish on leading print publication for that client.

 

Do you have a social media related best practice for building a media list that should be added? If so, your comments are welcome.