Have you struggled to find a great news story and then fallen flat because you sent your press release to a bunch of journalists but no one was interested? It’s one of the issues that comes up time and again for entrepreneurs and small business owners trying to get eyeballs on their businesses. Coming up with a constant stream of ideas that will be of interest to the media is challenging enough, let alone packaging it in the right way and getting it into the right hands.

finger-pointingHave you tried media databases or buying media lists but found that you’ve simply got no response? Or, maybe you’ve found some names and contact details but your press releases just always fall on deaf ears. Or maybe you feel like you are just floundering about because you’ve got an idea for a news story, and want to use press release to get media coverage, but you just don’t know who to send it to or which direction to go in.

The problem is that this can all too often turn into a knee jerk reaction that focuses on getting your news out to as journalists as possible hoping that some will be interested. Actually, the real problem is that you haven’t taken the time to really understand which media is already interested in your niche and the news related to it.

Well, the good news is that there are journalists out there who are interested in you and your business and a press release can be a great way to get your news story to them.

One caveat before we move full steam ahead on finding the right media contacts. It’s a good idea to have a PR plan in place with a number of ‘news’ stories you can issue as well as other ways to get featured in the press and media. It needn’t be complex, the simpler the better.

Sometimes, for whatever reason, a press release will flop – maybe it’s the timing, maybe a competitor got in there with a similar or related story just before you, maybe national events have taken the focus in a different direction, maybe someone famous has died and that is all the media is interested in. So, you don’t want to put all your eggs in one basket and just rely on a single news announcement because there is a degree of risk associated with that.

It’s much better to have a number of opportunities lined up. Also, that helps to establish you credibility with key journalists because they get the drip, drip, drip of quality news stories and ideas from you.

So, let’s assume you have a news story up and coming and you want to find the right journalists to target, here are some ideas to help you build your media contacts list.

Subscribe to a media database – There are a number of services available that enable you to search for media contacts. The issue is that they can be pricey and many require a monthly subscription which can be hard to justify. I do subscribe to one called PR Max which also offers a single one month subscription package for £195.

But, it’s important to see any media database as a starting point rather than the definitive way to build an effective media target list. There are also many other ways to find media contacts and, in reality, a combination is the best way.

Use free online resources such as Media.info – You can use it to find radio, televison, newspaper and magazine media outlets. And, with the links it provides direct to websites you can then do further research to find contact names and details.

Search online for niche news – If you use a search engine and type in a key word or phrase for your niche + ‘news’ then it will bring up news related sites and that can be a good way to find relevant media outlets.

Search online for freelancers – Use a search engine and type in your key word or phrase for your niche + ‘freelance journalist.’ That will bring up freelance journalists who cover your niche. Just to say, you don’t want to bombard them with your email pitches for news stories or ideas. You still need to do some research to find out the types of things they have covered and whether they are a good fit for your business and the news stories you have.

Search online for ‘mock titles’ – Another useful way to find media outlets that are worth researching further is to use a search engine and type in ‘mock titles’ for news stories that are relevant for your niche. If you can find where a particular, relevant, news story has been featured then that gives you a good idea for where you can target your news story. You can also use this to search out opportunites for by-lined, or expert articles (i.e. articles that you contribute and that are published under your name), and guest blogs.

Search for competitors – Don’t forget too to check out the press and media coverage your competitors have secured. That will help you to identify relevant media outlets for news stories as well as other opportunities. Why not save yourself some time and hassle and ride on the back of their success?

You can see some of the methods in action in a free webinar I did – 7 steps to creating your customised PR plan, which you can access here.

Check out the publications in the newsagents – Nothing beats grabbing a copy of a publication and going through it from cover to cover. Not only will it give you the relevant contact details but by reviewing it you will get a clear idea of whether your news story is a good fit and whether it’s worth the effort to contact them.

Go to the library – Check out past editions of newspapers and magazines. It will help you to identify relevant journalists but also, for the national newspapers, the days on which relevant topics are covered.

Which methods do I use – all of the above, plus some.

In a nutshell: Finding the right journalists takes time and effort and it is much better to focus in on a smaller number of highly relevant journalists than blast your email out to hundreds or thousands in the hope that someone might be interested.

What’s been most challenging for you in trying to find the right journalists who will be interested in you and your business?

Want more media visibility for your business? Then, check this out (it’s free): 7 quick and easy ways to get media visibility.