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Using Google to Build a Media Contact List for Your Business

It’s surprising how many people think generating media coverage in publications, on websites, blogs, TV shows, radio programs and podcasts is a task exclusively fit for a PR pro.

Yes, good public relations professionals should have a strong list of PR contacts, but that’s not always the case. Most generalist PR companies focus in a lot of areas and don’t necessarily have a strong contact base in any one category. This is why my public relations agency, PublicHaus, is built around a network of independent specialists who are leaders in individual categories – from tech to lifestyle to automotive to hospitality (to name a few). When clients hire us, they get the services of the best in their category.

But this blog is about empowering individuals and business owners to execute their own public relations campaigns, and it all begins with a strong media list, which is the foundation of any successful earned media strategy. It’s how I begin every public relations campaign, and you should too.

You probably already have a number of magazines, websites or possibly even TV programs in mind that you’d like to see covering your company. As referenced in my book, Press On:

Write each one of these outlets down, and from that point, research all of the similar types of media that fall within those categories. One good resource for this is the website allyoucanread.com, a portal to thousands of print and digital outlets categorized by topic and region (both US and international).

Your list might include business and trade media, or general interest TV and radio. The majority of contacts might be locally or regionally focused. The key is to capture as many outlets as possible that could feasibly cover you, your company or brand.

Chances are you also have a good idea where your target audience consumes media. All of these outlets should appear on your list as well. For instance, if you’re bringing to market a new women’s skin care line, a large segment of your audience likely reads magazines like Self, Cosmo and Real Simple (as well as their online counterparts, which all produce original content independent of what’s in print); visits websites like Refinery29 and Bustle; and watches TV shows like Good Morning America and Dr. Oz.

PR people use all kinds of fancy list-building platforms and tools, but the truth is,

nothing beats Google for researching the appropriate journalists and outlets to include in your media list. Start by doing a Google “News” search for outlets covering your competitors, comparable industries and relevant trends, and you’ll open up a whole world of media opportunities based on your findings.

As an example, if you do a simple Google search for “new skin care line”, and then click on the “News” section below the search bar, your results will show all media outlets that have written about a “new skin care line”. You’ll find pages upon pages of recent media placements in a number of top-tier news outlets and blogs. Repeating this for all key words relevant to your business should generate a considerable amount of media targets.

It’s also helpful to set Google alerts for relevant keywords as well as competitors. When your competition appears in the news, or a trend you’re tracking gets covered, you’ll get an email alert from Google with a link to the article or coverage. Add all relevant articles and reporters with links to the coverage (so you can reference specific stories when reaching out) to your master list.

A list grows, evolves, and sometimes contracts as your campaign progresses, but it’s essential to have all potential contacts in one place that you’ll consistently access, utilize and update. As you communicate and build relationships with these media outlets, keep notes for easy reference and before you know it you’ll have a group of media interested in you and eager for your next announcement or coverage opportunity.

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