Today’s guest post is by Dana Flannery Hayes from Talk About Creative


You’re a small business owner in Australia.  You’re a retailer with big ideas and fab products.  Chances are you’ve dreamt of finding their products in the pages of a glossy magazine  or on huge social media sites or featured on a top rating TV show.  Then you priced public relations. PR companies are EXPENSIVE.  A PR company keeps an up to date media contact list but also has relationships with those journalists or bloggers.  They use those relationships to get past gate keepers and get your product out there, in the limelight.  So, how does a small business do their own PR activities and see real results? From working their own highly targeted media contact list.

Get yourself a targeted media contact list

Don’t just add The Australian and Better Homes and Gardens.  Start with a highly targeted media contact list and begin reaching out to the journalists via Twitter and other social networks that they love.  Getting a list together of bloggers and media in your niche is the first job.  This is tougher than you think.  Buying established lists often means that the media contact information is out of date (the media industry has massive turnover) so avoid just buying “off the shelf” media lists.

Instead, you’ll need to do some serious internet research.  Researching media outlets, magazines, bloggers and the like in your niche, with contact details will take you a fair bit of time. Especially if you’re planning to DIY your public relations – as you’ll get better results the deeper you venture into your industry.  This is called Vertical Searching – yes it’s far more time consuming but it is also the way to achieve better results. Google’s in the process of evolving horizontal search (the equivalent of targeting big general media outlets) to vertical (going deep into your industry for better ROI and more targeted results) so it’s ideal not only for traditional public relations attention but also for social PR – just what Google ordered!

  • A great media list will include:
  • Journalist name
  • Contact details
  • Publication details (distribution, social media reach etc)
  • Social media contacts
  • Where they advertise for experts
  • Publication lead times/deadlines
  • Blogger “work with us” information
  • Any personal information that is relevant to your brand (for example, if you sell kids products and you’re targeting Kidspot journalists, it’s useful to know a little about the individual journalist’s kids – age, gender etc so you can send them products to review)


This takes a surprisingly long time to research.  Hiring a professional internet researcher (yes, a shameless plug for what we do) means you’ll get both a horizontal and vertical selection of media outlets without spending ten or more hours on your project.  Professional, targeted list building may be more affordable than you think – especially as the big PR companies charge $10K plus a month for use of theirs!  Get a quote on your specific media list here.

How to work your list

Now you’ve got a great, targeted, vertical list, it’s time to work it.

  1. Prepare for when you have something newsworthy – prepare a few months in advance. Launching a new product?  Holding an event for your business?  It’s time to start warming your list in advance.
  2. Use Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus and Linked In to reach out to the individual journalists or bloggers on your list. Tag them in content they may find interesting but don’t irritate them with spammy tagging.  Make sure you’re showing them how valuable you are.  Engage with their tweets and status updates.  Comment on their posts as your business or as yourself.  Get them chatting with you.
  3. Find out where they do call outs for “experts” – be it HARO, Sourcebottle, Newsmodo or via their personal or professional social media accounts. Subscribe to those.  Get Google Alerts set up for their name and all publications on your list.
  4. Consider the lead times they need for publication of your content. If you’re launching a new product in June and they publish monthly, you may need to have content to them as early as April.
  5. Get targeted press releases written. If you’re not an experienced media writer, this may mean reaching out to a company that writes professional press releases. To keep costs down, get one press release written about your launch and then create a highly targeted “first paragraph” for each journalist – giving them an easy “angle” to write about for their specific audience.
  6. Call the journalist and let them know you’re sending them some information and ask if there is anything in particular they need. This is where the PR company makes its money as the gatekeeper/receptionist/editor’s assistant is there to stop you calling the journalist directly.  PR companies have an existing relationship and can get past the gatekeeper.  If you can’t get through by phone (and human conversation is the best way to connect), go back to the places where you originally connected with them and contact them there.  Send them a private message.  Reserve this step until you absolutely have to use it – doing it too often or unnecessarily will get you branded a spammer – and ruin all your good work!
  7. Provide a selection of low resolution WOW images and make it clear that high resolution images, interviews, quotes and follow up information is available. They just need to shoot you a quick email.
  8. Send the press release in the period prior to their deadline for publication. Attach it to an email that has a short, clear overview of how you can help them create content for their publication.
  9. Follow up with a phone call confirming they got it and offering any extra information.
  10. Cross your fingers!

How much money can you save by getting a targeted DIY Media Contact List?

Depending on your brand’s goals and needs, your media list will likely cost you under $500.  Making outreach part of your social media activity is free and fairly simple.  Once you’ve done this for a few months, you’ll likely find yourself building a relationship with up to a dozen journalists and bloggers.  That relationship is yours, to nurture and grow on an ongoing basis.  A PR company will charge you between $3000 and $10000 per month to get you engaged with media in your niche – but at the end of your campaign, they still hold the media contact list and the relationship.  You’re back to where you started as far as relationships go.

Targeted, current media contact lists are essential to growing a small business on budget.  Yes, they’re an epic pain in the neck to set up, but once you’re using them, they’re relatively simple going forward. Whether you’re after an Australian magazine list, a general media list for your geographical location or a highly targeted vertical media contact list, you will find that doing your own PR opens grand new doors for you and is well worth the initial set up costs and efforts.

Online Research Matters

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