Media database for your blog

Getting yourself and your blog noticed by media outlets is all about networking. But before talking about how to pitch media, we have to create a database with contacts!
A media database is a comprehensive list of media outlets and contacts that you will need to get yourself pitched and recognized. Creating, maintaining and updating media databases have always been recognized as intern’s duties. However –and unless, of course, your blog is so big that you actually need to hire an intern– you will have to work this out by yourself.
Oh, but it’s so boring and sassy!”, you would say. And yes, as a former PR Intern I won’t deny that it certainly is. But remember: the more organized you are, the better. And great organization skills are mandatory for a blog’s PR Manager!

Create a Database File

You can use worksheets in Ms Excel or iWork Numbers, or even forms in Ms Access. Don’t use Ms Word or iWork Pages to do this since you will realize with the time that their functions are very limited.
What should your database’s first-row include?

  1. Media outlet name
  2. Media outlet type
  3. Media outlet website
  4. Contact name
  5. Contact surname
  6. Contact title
  7. Email address
  8. Twitter name
  9. Telephone
  10. Professional Blog
  11. City
  12. (Extra) Notes: Features, Preferred method of communication.

You can organize these categories the way you like. This is going to become one of your most valuable tools, so it should make sense to you. If you find there is something crucial to your blog that should be included, simply add it.
Personal tip: I don’t know how it works out for you, but I love dealing with colourful environments. Have a look at the different styles you can use in your worksheet or add an extra splash of colour to the top bar of your worksheet. Ta-da!

Media Contacts Research

So now you have your worksheet ready, but you need to start writing some stuff on it, right? As a blogger, you might already know how to find other blogger’s contacts. But wait a minute, do you know how to actually find media contacts in online magazines? Some fellow PRs will blame on me for what I am about to do but… Seriously, let’s keep it THIS simple. Here are some tricks!

–       Start by visiting the websites of all the media outlets you are willing to include in your database. Try to locate the Contact, About us or even Mediakit/Advertising section. Useful information can be found there.
If you are interested in print media, go to the kiosk and check the masthead.

–       If your initial search doesn’t lead you anywhere, then let’s switch to a second plan: peruse the authors of each and every section’s articles. This will give you information about “names” and “surnames”, as well as “features covered”.

–       But now we need email addresses and, after checking the website, they are not there! How are we going to find those? It can be very simple. Google the editor’s name and surname and then write “@mediaoutlet.com” (Ex. @nylon.com). If nothing happens or you can’t find what you were looking for, try to think bigger: which editorial group owns that media outlet? Try @editorialgroup.com (Ex. @condenast.com).

–       Use Google (and Twitter) to find Twitter accounts (if you can’t find these on the website). For instance, Glamour publishes a link to the editor’s Twitter account at the beginning of each and every post. You can track people like that.

–       Use Linkedin! (Are we connected in Linkedin, by the way?) This is such a great professional network and almost everybody is in there. The good thing is that while you are looking for that specific person, many other relevant ones will eventually appear in your search.

–       Buy a media list. I strongly recommend you to get one in PR Couture.

Introducing yourself

While you are doing your research and collecting all the data, you may be tempted to start introducing yourself on-the-go (maybe through Twitter). This could be fine, but do not harass people proposing a thousand things in 140 characters. This doesn’t work like that. Simply introduce yourself with a very quick message and let that person know why you are following him/her.
Be specially careful when approaching people through Facebook as it can be really invasive. I wouldn’t do so unless it’s clearly a Fan Page.
When considering writing an email, remember that your first communication can be a dramatic moment in your relationship with that person. So please, take your time in actually discovering what that person writes about and what his/her interests are. You’ll hardly have a second chance to give a first impression, and you do not want to be on his/her black list.

The right pitch

While “asking” may sound far too simple, it is sometimes the only way of finding out how your target media prefers to be pitched. In some cases you can find this information online, even on their Twitter BIO.

Am I missing anything? Do you have any questions? Need personalized advice about this subject? Do not hesitate to contact me!

Picture credits: Mark Pillai has photographed Hanna Verhees and Solveig Mørk hansen for Elle Italia (May 2013).