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Puzzles and shape sorters have become a staple in my house, as we enter the toddler years with my oldest daughter. Patience, time and multiple attempts at trying to put the square through the round hole are in play as she tries to figure out how to match shapes and animals correctly. You might wonder what this has to do with public relations. Well, these simple matching toys provide a powerful illustration on the importance of fit. For PR success, your message and goals need to align with the media outlet. If they don’t, it’s a little like trying to put the elephant piece where the lion goes. Without a proper match up you might not pique the interest of a reporter, or your message will be delivered to the wrong audience.

Just as it takes my daughter some time to match her shapes, you need to invest time and effort in finding where your message best fits in the media landscape. These 5 steps will help you identify media outlets that are a perfect fit for your message.

Step 1 – Know your message

bullseye boardBefore you can identify a target media outlet, you need to know and develop your message. Many times people get this backwards. They identify a list of outlets they want to be in, but don’t know what they want to say. Spend some time honing your message. Your message can come in many forms as well – press release, contributed articles, podcasts, etc. Here are some questions to think through:

  •     What are the key ideas and topics you want to convey to your target audience?
  •     Do you have a call to action for the readers?
  •     Are there areas of expertise within your organization that can offer help or impart knowledge to the audience?

Step 2 – Research your topic

Now that you have established your message it’s time to research. First, start off with a simple Google search on the main topics that the message is going to cover. Browse the first couple pages to see what organizations, outlets and news articles pop up and build a target list from your search results. You can also use a tool like Cision to go a step further. These databases not only help you find outlets and reporters covering specific topics, but also provide their contact information.

Step 3 – Read the articles

Armed with a compilation of promising articles on your topic, it’s time to read. Here are some things to pay attention to:

  •     Who is the author? Are they an editor or guest contributor?
  •     When was the article written? (The topic might no longer be relevant if it was last written about in 2014.)
  •     What media outlet was it published in?
  •     Can you expand upon or provide a different viewpoint than the topic already covered?

Step 4 – Dive deeper on the media outlets

Spend some time investigating your target media outlets by checking out the “about” section and recently published articles–this will allow you to get a feel for the topics and audience they attract. When doing a deeper dive on media outlets, here are some things to consider:

  •     How regularly do they publish new content?newspaper clips
  •     Check out their social media accounts. Do they post frequently? Do they have a good following and engagement?
  •     Is your topic a main theme or section they cover? What other topics do they cover?
  •     What kind of editorial opportunities do they offer–podcasts, contributed content, Q&As, etc?

Step 5 – Build your target media list

By investing the time upfront to research, read and dive deeper, you will be able to pull together a meaningful list of media outlets and contacts to reach out to with your message. When building your media list make sure to capture as much information as possible, including links to those articles you read that cover your topic.

Following these steps will help you build a media list that fits with your message, so you can achieve more opportunities for your message to be heard. Just as it is going to take time for my daughter to master her puzzles and shape sorters, you will have greater success by investing time and effort to learn and practice how to match the right outlets for your message. But it is worth it! When your message is a good fit for a media outlet you will find increased success in landing interviews, contributed articles, features and more.

You can learn more techniques in my previous blogs Five Tactics for Meeting Your PR and Marketing Goals and Four Tips & Tricks for Successful PR Measurement. Don’t miss out on future insights from the Interprose Voice. Subscribe today on the right to automatically receive updates straight to your in-box!

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