Sourcing media contacts – the easy way

February 3, 2009

One of the classic PR myths is that of Contacts: many PRs will guard their contacts, and play upon how well they know certain journalists and editors. This can be daunting to the uninitiated – after all, half the battle can appear to be how to find, nurture and develop Press contacts for effective long-term PR Campaigns.

The reality of sourcing and supplying Media contacts is far simpler. PR Agencies can tell of vast press databases they hold, of specialist media contact networks they utilise and over-charge Clients the privilege of having access to.

It’s unlikely that you will have budget in place to pay hundreds of pounds for an extensive media database of Press contacts, as supplied by firms such as Mediadisk and Cision, but there are low- and non-cost resources you can utilise to build a sizeable, effective and efficient media database of contacts.

One of the best ways to gain up-to-date media data is to contact the publication direct and ask them.

Here are some the resources and media contact sources to consider:

1. Writers’ & Artists’ Yearbook: always a good solid source of press contacts for those looking to engage the media. At less than £15 paperback, it’s incredibly good value to boot. Visit for details.

2. Buy the publication and source the relevant editorial contacts – sounds so simple, but the best place to start is by actually reading the target publication itself, and making yourself familiar with the key journalists. Also visit the publication’s Web version, as there may well be different journalistic contacts online.

3. Google it. A quick internet search will usually bring up relevant links for you to gain additional information, contacts and background for a PR Campaign. This may seem ridiculously straightforward, but rather than waste valuable budget, a targeted and cost-saving approach such as this will bear positive results for your media contacts databasing – and, equally as importantly – in the short-term, it will also get you into the practice of actually talking to journalists on different publications: an essential skill to start maintaining and developing at the earliest possible opportunity.

If you have heard stories of press contacts favouring certain sources over others, why do you think this is? Basically, the media have limited time and are always on one deadline or another. If you, as a trusted source of reliable, useful and informative editorial and images stay in touch with the editor of a target publication – say once a month – then you become of value to them.

Over time, you may well be called upon to add editorial comments, opinion pieces, or quick quotes on issues of the day: this is the Holy Grail of media relations, when the Press are contacting you and not the other way around. But it takes time, effort and persistence. And you may not always succeed.

But until you make the effort, get online, buy publications, ring round the newsrooms, confirm contacts details (make sure you get direct telephone numbers and current email addresses, too, as editorial staff often move) you’ll never have a reliable, effective and powerful media contacts database.

Utilise the above three methods. It has worked for us here without spending Clients’ budgets on media databases. You only need invest time and focus.


2 Responses to “Sourcing media contacts – the easy way”

  1. Agree that low/no-cost desk research is an alternative to extensive media databases, though I’d suggest that with databases you’re paying to shortcut not only the high-brow spadework, but also ongoing maintenance, functionality, etc. As you say, it all depends on budget and expectations.

    Even so, Cision thinks that there’s a structured combination of traditional database and web research that would provide a more elegant (and low-cost) solution, and you can read about it here.

    And just for the record, Cision (in the UK) was formerly known as Romeike and is still the company behind Mediadisk.

  2. bristoleditor said

    Hi Paul

    Thanks for the input – much appreciated.

    And whilst agreeing completely with the fact that buying-in media databases may well be an option for larger companies, for the majority of the SMEs and sole entrepreneurs we come into contact with, the financial realities of utilising this kind of resource is simply not a viable spend on their limited marketing and comms budgets – particularly given current economics.

    A bit of desk research can go a long way – even if it’s just buying a few target publications, getting online, or doing a basic newsroom ring-round.

    As with all media relations, of course, it is the action that counts. A consistent, professional and targeted media relations approach often reaps more positive rewards than sending blanket emails through a generated third-party database, we’ve found.

    Thanks again.

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