Tools for Targeting Media Pitches

There are hundreds of thousands of outlets in the U.S. that serve as resources of entertainment and news for millions of consumers. To achieve placements in these outlets, PR professionals and publicity seekers must provide a service to the publications; providing impactful, pertinent information that their readers can use. Interpretation: pitches must be targeted to publications and writers that are interested in providing your story to their readers.

Building a targeted media list entails finding topic-specific publications, becoming familiar with their content, combing through previously printed/posted articles to find the editors and writers on a particular beat, and digging for their contact information. While this process is educational, it is time-consuming and may be prohibitive if there is a wide swath of publications and consumers you plan to reach.

Media database services provide users the ability to search for media outlets (newspapers, magazines, and blogs) and contributors with a few clicks of the mouse. These services can offer incredible time savings and insight into the type of information outlets and writers publish. Blanketing publication contacts with a universal (vanilla) press release will more likely get you blocked than it will get your story placed. Database services provide tools that allow users to customize story angles and pitches and present them to the appropriate staff and freelance writers.

We’ve recently had the opportunity to investigate several database providers and are happy to share our findings so you may make a more informed decision. Most services claim they have databases containing over X thousands of media contacts that are updated constantly by a group of staff assigned to do nothing else. We identified two key differentiating factors of providers in our research; search capabilities, and ease of use. In this round of research, we discovered a new option that not all the services provide; Natural Language Processing (NLP). This option surpasses a typical Boolean (and/or) keyword search and can be applied to searches for articles that have been written on certain topics and offer access to the writers of those articles. This is a whole new way to search for the producers of topic specific-content as opposed to simply searching for staff reporters on a certain beat.

BurrellesLuce has been monitoring the media since 1888 and has long been considered one of the best in the business for print coverage. The company hasn’t been in the database research business for nearly as long. We found the database tool to be clunky and the search process to require a lot of work to drill down to pertinent information. Contracts for service begin at $8,000/year.

Vocus and Cision are two of the more popular services with tourism bureaus and government agencies. Both have very comprehensive databases. They both include comprehensive detail on publications but only mediocre detail on freelance writers and niche publications. Both claim to have constant database updating processes in place. While we found some outdated information, the majority of the contacts listed are accurate. Ease of use ranges depending upon the detail you are seeking. Both services offer excellent customer service and training sessions. Becoming adept with the advanced search tools takes some practice but can be very effective once mastered. Contracts for service begin at $7,000/year.

My Media Info is a five-year-old company that is relatively new to the database scene. We found the research database to be deep but the tool is a little challenging to operate. It does allow the user to see editorial calendars and set reminders to contact editors for inclusion in calendared articles. This tool also uses a process like the NLP, mentioned earlier, to create a “pitch cloud” to allow a view of keyword and topic frequency within a writer’s body of work.  My Media Info is the most inexpensive of the options that we researched with packages starting at $3,000/year.

Meltwater was founded in 2001 and has always been an web-based tool. They claim to index over 1 million articles a day (for use with monitoring and database programs). Their standout feature is the ability to use NLP keyword searches of actual articles written to find writers and publications that are trending on a certain topic. Additionally, the user may also conduct a traditional publication/beat search that is intuitive and productive. Contract packages begin at $5,175/year.

The key to finding the right monitoring service is to test drive as many as you can to figure out which is the easiest to use, produces the  best results, and stays within your allotted budget. Keep in mind that if you are only seeking coverage in a limited geographic or niche market, you may not need to spend money on a monitoring resource at all; an individual should be able to conduct the search with a moderate time investment. Should you decide that no one in your organization has the time or experience to perform this valuable research and targeted pitching, contact the Caliber group; or (520) 795.4500. We have a talented, creative, and experienced PR team that can help you reach your business goals via media placements.

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