Compiling media contacts, celebrities in PSAs, more

What are effective media list-building strategies?

Media directories
What are effective media list-building strategies?

“Using a service to purchase media lists should only be the first step to compiling the appropriate contacts at media outlets,” said Kerri Erb, SVP and director of media services at Wheatley & Timmons. “Research newspaper Web sites, Technorati, blogrolls and other online sources to create a more comprehensive directory of journalists.”

Build a master list and keep it updated as relationships are built, she says. It's important to take notes based on interactions with each contact relating to their topics of interest and how they prefer to receive information.

“Familiarize yourself with the particular blogger or reporter you want to reach,” suggests Erb. “One press release doesn't fit all, so add a unique angle tailored for each person.”

Investing time in the list-building stage will result in stronger relationships and more effective and successful media pitching, she adds.

Celebrities in PSAs
Do I need to have a celebrity for my PSA campaign?

Celebrities offer a distinct value to a PSA, but they can also be a hindrance, says Annette Minkalis, SVP at WestGlen Communications.

Radio stations often say their decision rests on the relevance of the PSA's message to their audience, not on celebrities. However, celebrities can help draw positive attention, Minkalis adds.

“Be careful of using a celebrity who appears on a popular network TV show, because it may hinder your airings on local affiliates of other networks if they view it as competition,” she says. “Vet your celebrity to [ensure that] no reputation issues can arise, or you may have to pull your PSA.”

Stations also like when a PSA has a well-known passion for a cause, such as Cynthia Nixon on breast cancer. But they don't take it seriously when a C-list celebrity is affixed to a campaign with no real tie.

Keeping relationships
What are ways to keep relationships with contacts and clients strong during economic slowdown?

“Use the struggling economy as an opportunity to think outside the box,” says Nancy Trent, president of Trent & Company. “Find ways to entertain your contacts and build relationships that not only cost less, but that are creative and express more about who you are and what your company represents.”

It's a good idea to write letters or e-mails to long-standing contacts to explain how important they have been to the success of your company, Trent says. Inviting contacts on your favorite walk, or to your home for lunch or dinner can also strengthen the relationship.

“This provides a time to clear your heads together,” she says. “Reflect on your work weeks, share ups and downs, and brainstorm future projects,” she says.

Send your questions to: Please contact Beth Krietsch if you are interested in contributing to PR Toolbox or to suggest ideas for future columns. Toolbox is available online at

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