The foundation of a good PR program is a well-connected media list. There are several ways to build one. You could pay for one. A number of services will assemble a targeted list for you for a fee. If you are in a particularly niche-y market like commercial printing or utility marketing, most of what you get will be garbage, in my humble experience.
You could spend years collecting contacts and organically building a community of editors and analysts. If you’ve got the time, by all means, this is a great way to build a list of people who actually know who you are. I have a very nice list I’ve cultivated in this way.
Media Influencers in a Niche Market
But what if you need something fast that’s outside your norm, a vertical market like non-profits or a certain type of user such as direct marketers? How do you find out who reaches and influences that audience?
You can spend hours building a niche list from scratch and still not end up with very much for your efforts. Believe me, I have. This approach involves lots of search and research, Googling and guessing, as you validate (or reject) one website after another.
Once you find an appropriate online media target, good luck finding the names of the editors and writers. It’s surprising how few media sites make this information easy to find. (It’s almost like they don’t want you to find them, hmmmm.)
An Alternative for List Building
If you’re introducing a product to a new market, or ramping up a PR program for a company that hasn’t had much of one before, starting from scratch or else buying a list are your most likely choices, but not your only ones.
If you want to save time and kick start a targeted media list in a niche market, one of the best free and fast resources are the trade shows and conferences that target your particular interest. Using the information gleaned from a conference site, you can accelerate the growth of your media list for a specific market.
Who Are the Conference Media Sponsors and Exhibitors?
For starters, look for media sponsors and media exhibitors to see who has an interest in this segment. Let’s go back to that SPTechCon example used in the last few WordScience blogs. If you research this conference site, you hit big time pay dirt with 14 print and PDF publications and a whopping 57 “influencer” portals. That’s 71 possibilities for your press list — an amazing result. If just half of those contacts pan out, you’ve done well. With niche media lists, it’s not quantity you’re after, it’s quality.
You’re Asking for It: The Show Press List
Ask the conference PR manager or marketing director for the list of pre-registered press. Explain that you want it in order to develop your interest in the conference “as an exhibitor.” Even if they offer last year’s list, take it. The media won’t change that much, and what you really want is a website and the email formula, in case it’s not easy to locate current contacts. (You’d be amazed at how many sites make finding the editor’s email next to impossible.)
Next Step: Get Ready to Research
Once you know where the editors are, there’s still work to be done to build a list of contact names. Visit the publication websites, find specific editorial contacts, and scrub the ones that don’t cover the segments of the industry sandbox where you play. For example, a publication might have a writer focused on the federal market, or someone who covers networks. The masthead is your next level source for researching the media sites you found in the trade show information. (BTW, if you don’t have a PR background, you might not know that the masthead is where magazines list people like publishers, editors and contributing writers.)
Conference Media Information Saves Time
Just having access to this information as a starting point saves tons of time and avoids research rat holes. The good thing is, with the conference website as your media ground zero, you have the links and typically some background immediately available to help move your media research along. And the information is usually fairly current, even if it’s last year’s press list. The main media sites themselves won’t change that much.
Now all you have to do is start a spreadsheet of media contacts: emails, names, publications, and areas of interest. It’s VERY time-consuming and it’s best to do it yourself instead of delegating, but in the long run, it’s your best source for an affordable targeted press list for a niche industry.