Hitting the bull’s-eye: Media Relations 101

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How to target the media effectively in a few simple steps

We hear people say “targeting the media” all the time. But what does that phrase really mean? The word “target” means aiming for the right goal. I immediately think of an archery target and that tiny little bull’s-eye right in the center. The bull’s-eye image is, in essence, the key to effective media relations. Finding that exact target, aiming and hitting it dead on with one shot is much more effective than sending 100 arrows in the approximate direction of the target. Here are a few tips on finding and hitting your own bull’s-eye:

  • Finding the right goal: Before ever contacting a journalist, media relations pros should conduct some simple media research: who their audience is, what media outlets are the right fit and which journalists are the best to contact for their campaign.
  • Understanding Your Target Audience: Think about who you want to see your story, client or company. Is your story angle appropriate for end-users, buyers or influencers? Once you have identified your audience, determine how they consume news.
  • Researching Outlets: If your audience is technology experts, you probably want to devote a large portion of your campaign time to blogs, online news sites and social networks. Identify outlets that are geared toward your target audience or cover the type of story that you are pitching. Think about format – Is this a breaking 24/7 news story, a longer feature or maybe a product spotlight?
  • Identifying the Right Contacts: Read, Read, Read! (or Watch, Watch, Watch!) Not every journalist who covers an industry or topic writes or reports on the same type of stories. Every journalist has a different tone, covers different beats and reports on different types of stories (case studies, news, opinion, profiles, trends, etc.) Remember that LESS IS MORE… Don’t send the same pitch to 100s of contacts… or even multiple contacts at the same outlet.
  • Contacting the Media: Research how each journalist wants to be contacted. Do they wish to receive press releases or pitches by email, mail or fax? What days are they on deadline? If you’re not sure, ask, don’t assume. There are public relations resources that can help you get to know more about your media contacts or assist you in your press release distribution. If you subscribe to Cision’s media database, you can view thousands of profiles on journalists. But there are many other ways to find out this information. Many journalists and outlets provide info on how they want to be contacted right on their website.

Now it’s time to actually contact the journalists you’ve settled on for your campaign. Be concise. Journalists are often on deadline and their schedules should be respected. Think about developing a relationship – not just sending a press release. This is setting yourself up for success in the future. Lastly, follow through! Be prepared… know your facts and the answers to common questions. If you are offering an expert for interview, have their bio, schedule and contact info available. Keep an open line of communication – this will assist you in developing relationships that will benefit you in the future.

About Heidi Sullivan

One of PRWeek’s 40 under 40 in 2012, Heidi Sullivan is Senior Vice President of Digital Content for Cision and a self-proclaimed social media metrics nerd. She leads the company’s digital and broadcast content teams, the global research team for Cision’s media database, Cision’s social media community team and the company’s content marketing strategy. You can find her on Twitter @hksully.

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