PR Wars Podcast: Build better media lists

If your media list isn’t spot on, it won’t matter how good your press releases are. On today’s PR Wars podcast, we talk with Meltwater‘s Cody Konschak to help you build better media lists for better coverage.

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* You can also listen to Meltwater’s Cody Konschak’s previous episode PR Wars Podcast: Better measurement reports

A.I. generated show transcript: 

Show open: “We want the truth.” “We want the truth.” “We want the truth.” “I have news for everybody. Get over it.”

Announcer
It’s time. Welcome to PR Wars coming at you live from Atlanta, Georgia. Now, here is your host… Chris Shigas.

Chris Shigas
Welcome to PR Wars. I’m Chris Shigas. The media is changing under our feet. I mean, media lists over six months old can get dozens of email bounce backs. And if your media list isn’t spot on, it won’t matter how good your press releases are. We can do better. Well today on PR Wars, fellow veteran public relations sage, Brad Grantham and I welcome back to the show the Managing Director of Client Success at the media intelligence giant Meltwater. Cody Konschak. Cody, welcome back to the PR Wars. Thanks for coming back.

Cody Konschak
Thanks, guys. I’m really excited to be back here to talk with you today.

Brad Grantham
Cody, I gotta I gotta tell you one of my biggest pet peeves, you know, we know the importance of having an updated MEDIA list. We can throw away those old Excel spreadsheets full of bounce back email addresses, and there was nothing worse when I was starting out in the agency world when you would put out a release. And you hear bing, bing, bing, bing, bing, bing, bing, and you’re like, Great, great. This is Oh, wait, wait, that’s actually 62 bounce backs. That’s not good. You know, we have seen in the past decade more so maybe in the past five or three years, consolidation of media. We have seen massive layoffs in print and newspapers, magazines. So how often? Do you see media contacts needing to be updated? And how often does meltwater do that?

Cody Konschak
Yeah, this is a really great question, Brad, I gotta say, you aren’t the only one with this pet peeve. It’s certainly a pet peeve of mine as well. Because I think what we see is these Excel one from from the client standpoint, write the one sending out the press release, there’s nothing worse than getting all of those bounce backs or, or getting an email back from the journalist saying this is completely irrelevant to what I’m doing. Now. This was something I was doing years ago. There’s nothing worse than that, because you spent time sending this out thinking you had a really great list. Conversely, it’s also really horrible for the for the the journalist who’s sitting on the opposite end, getting all of those emails with irrelevant press releases, wondering what do I do with this information and then taking time to respond. So it can result in a lot of wasted time for both parties, which is really unfortunate, I think, through conversations with clients that I’ve spoken with, and the ones have been really successful, with not only our with our media database at meltwater, but also just sending out press releases in general, is refreshing these as much as possible. I mean, I’m seeing clients do it monthly. I’m seeing clients, you know, taking time quarterly to do that as well. It really depends on one, how often are you sending out these media lists? Are these? Is it a media list of you know, 250 people? Is it a media list of 500 people, or is an immediate list of like 20 to 25 people that you have maintained really close relationships with. So I do think it will vary per company. But it’s always good to just hack to a quick refresher, do your due, take some time, do your research, and I think you’ll be fine.

Brad Grantham
So if I used meltwater this afternoon, and put out a press release to 50 people, and I’ve got 20 bounce backs or five bounce backs, whatever that number is, what do I do with that information? Can I send that to you and say, Hey, just FYI, sent this out. These bounce back? Can I do that? Then what happens after that?

Cody Konschak
Yeah, this is another great question. And this is great for any project, any of our clients that are potentially listening to the to the podcast today, you certainly could then send that back to meltwater, we have an entire support team that is dedicated to ensure our system is working properly, including our media Contacts database. So we do have a research team that is dedicated to updating the contacts. I think the important thing to remember though, is that we have over 600,000 contacts in this database. So because of that, it can take some time to sort through all of that and think about it this way. You always you talked about when initially came on. There’s been a lot of consolidation of publications, lots of layoffs. I could be a journalist at one publication today. And I can leave and go via publication that journalists had another publication tomorrow. And they updated my information yesterday. And now I don’t have my new information. It’s as easy as that and and oftentimes happens that way. So again, it’s always good to check just to make sure but we do have a team of people to help you do that.

Chris Shigas
For many veteran PR pros, you develop a circle of trust circle of reporters that you nurture, and you know, their bead, and you know, your industry and all that. It’s really difficult for a young PR person who’s just getting into the industry, and they’re trying to build these media lists, and they’re not sure the right contacts. Some cases, what I see when when a junior person is making a media list is is they’ll pick an outlet, let’s just say Fast Company, and then they’ll pick every person on that list in that company, and and send the same press release out to everyone. What advice do you have for a young PR pro? To say, Hey, here’s a good strategy for really getting your press release in the hands of the right person.

Cody Konschak
Yeah, this is a this is a great question. I always relate, sending press releases back to sales, I, you know, I work for a software company. And majority of what we do is, is sales related, right? We’re working with clients, ensuring they’re they’re utilizing our tools appropriately. And I’ve been in sales since I graduated University. And it reminds me a lot of a great prospect, right? We spend so much time researching, finding that that person with a great job title, who has the great job description, it perfectly outlines exactly what I can do to help them, I know that if I reach out to this person, they’re the right person, they’re going to resonate with the message that I’m putting out there. So I think for any junior person, it’s not so much about padding, the the list that you’re sending it to, because I would almost shy away from that if you want to, if you want to send it to, you know, 500 people or above, send a wire release, you know, the the point of targeted releases is that you are able to do that research, take that time, build out a really quality list of prospects, and then pitch them on the press release that you’re sending out. So that I think pick up that

Chris Shigas
it’s also worthwhile for them to spend some time I think, really learning the roles in the media organizations. You know, Brad and I come from a TV background. So sometimes I’ll cringe a little bit when I see somebody send something to a news director, when I know that really needs to go to the assignment desk, wouldn’t you agree bread?

Brad Grantham
Yeah, no, I got a little die a little inside every time I see that happen. With all the investment that you guys have made machine learning, Ai, all the data that you have, how do you get the best open rates? What works the best? What’s in that subject line? How long or short? Is it? And do you have data on the best times to actually send out a press release during the week?

Cody Konschak
This will probably be somewhat polarizing amongst your amongst your listeners. Maybe I imagine that some aspects of this will be but yeah, to a degree I again, I’m going to relate this back to my experience in sales. And my experience with giving my clients ideas on how to approach this. The best times to reach out to a prospect is on a Tuesday or Thursday. Now until you why Okay, Mondays are reserved for for catching up, right, you’re planning for your entire week, you have things that you didn’t finish on Friday before you left for the weekend. You’re you don’t have time to answer all of those incoming emails Tuesday, especially Tuesday morning. People typically feel a little bit refreshed. They have things off of their to do list, they have some time to address any sort of incoming extra curricular emails that they’re getting, and will do so that so I think Tuesday’s Tuesday’s one of my favorite days to send an email the other day that I always I always suggest to you is on Thursday, Thursday, pretty much any point through the day. And that’s because Fridays are typically reserved for I’m going to get as much done for the weekend as possible. And Thursdays too. I think we find out Yeah, yeah. Or not. Oh, and Thursdays too. I think there’s they’re typically deadlines that happen by Thursday. So you really want to be able to get in, get your email in maybe a follow up email even by Thursday.

Chris Shigas
And so the open rate question, I’m a meltwater customer. So I know I can when I send out a press release through mail water, I can track the open rates there. And actually, I’ve heard industry wide, that open rates may be less than 50%. Now that that’s half your media list isn’t even opening. So one of the things I like to do is I preface in the subject line story idea, because to a media outlet, story ideas are always good. There’s good story ideas, bad story ideas, but hey, give me story ideas. I could always use story ideas, right? Do you have any thoughts about about open rates and how to increase your open rate?

Cody Konschak
Yeah, I’ve actually seen no, an alarming amount of clients that just send out a press release, no sort of pitch or information to go along with it. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, I think, especially for the organizations that let’s take, let’s say, you know, small, smaller hospital systems that work regionally. And there are, you know, 20 to 25 journalists that they work with, on average, they already have relationships with those people. So it’s okay, you know, just shoot out your press release, you know, it’s gonna get picked up because they’re looking for it. But for anyone who’s sending out a larger targeted hitlist, maybe to journalists that they don’t have relationships with, I always recommend to give a pitch, why are you Why are you targeting that person? Right? or Why are you targeting this group of people, there should be a reason, you should be able to help help them resonate with what you’re sending over. And the press release itself is just not going to do that. The best way to do that is to give yourself a little pitch. And you mentioned like subject lines, I think sometimes too, people are sending, you know, emails in with all caps, or they’ll put in, you know, exclamation points and things like that,

Chris Shigas
the high priority thing on

Cody Konschak
the high priority thing that outlet, they’ll say things like urgent, you know, and those types of things. In the world that we live in today, the security systems that we have in place for our own internal systems, getting emails, phishing attempts, they’re catching all of that. They’re looking for the emails with the all caps and the exclamation points and anything that could potentially seem off or not like a real email address, I would just say avoid something simple, simple, simple, catchy and and relates back to what they’re doing.

Brad Grantham
Cody, do you recommend any other channels for reaching journalists with a pitch, like LinkedIn are sliding into some DMS? I mean, I remember way back in the day giving elaborate press kits in the mail. Is that dead?

Cody Konschak
I wouldn’t say that elaborate press kits are dead. I think, depending on the organization, it makes sense. But I think because of the way that news is digested now, it’s so fast paced. Does everyone have the time? Or the resources to put those together and send them out? And is it really making a difference? Right, I definitely recommend going into social media slide into those DMS, I’m hearing about that left and right from our clients. I was actually surprised. There was like a week in particular, I kept hearing from clients. Oh, yeah, we find ourselves reaching out to them more on Twitter than through email, because they’re constantly posting on Twitter, I know that I can get them. And so they’re utilizing like our social engagement tool to easily schedule out schedule out posts or schedule out messages or respond to messages, things like that, that they’re getting. Yeah, I highly recommend those types of things,

Chris Shigas
services, like meltwater and the other ones, and you’ll have contact information for different reporters. And now those may include their LinkedIn profile, their their Twitter account, and a phone number, right. I’m assuming that on some level, the media contacts kind of have an option to tell you how they prefer to be contacted. It’s a little bit of a debate now, whether or not reporters want to be called on the phone. In my opinion, it’s it’s effective. However, I could see that you really want to reserve those phone calls when you really know that this story idea is relevant to the reporter. Right, Cody?

Cody Konschak
Um, again, this is our I think we’re maybe a little bit polarizing, but I definitely recommend a phone call. Unless you’re, you know, unless you’re sending Well, let me rephrase that. I think I think it makes sense for specific outlets. So maybe you’re sending out a press release that needs to go out to a list of 200 250 people. But like we talked about in our previous conversation, the previous podcast on measuring, we talked a little bit about the quality of the pickup, right? That’s where it comes in. What are your goals, identifying your goals, you have a goal to get picked up in a specific publication or specific publications, then those are the ones that send them the email and follow up with a call. It does not hurt to do that. And what’s the best way to develop a relationship or one of those journalists is having a conversation. Now I know that they’re there. They’re typically fast moving fast paced, but still, I think, getting ahead of anyone else who’s potentially in there. inbox, the best way to do is via phone call.

Brad Grantham
On the flip side of that, and again, I’m not sure if my daughter has this or not. But I remember back in the day using another service, it would be labeled clearly do not call this person or are never called this person, I assume that’s the same amount Walker, you have that listed.

Cody Konschak
So we actually have updated updated our system a bit just due to new regulations and security compliance. So that now every journalist has the ability to opt out of our media list. So if you you, they get an email from you, and at the bottom of every email, there’s a link to opt out, that means they will not receive another email from our database. So they have the ability to opt out the You don’t even have to actually enter our class, from our clients point of view, you don’t even have to worry about reaching out to them, because they won’t show up for you to do that.

Chris Shigas
And I found that the lists are really relevant. Now. I remember in the old days, when these lists first came out,

Brad Grantham
they were in with pirates.

Chris Shigas
I yeah. And I can tell you, you did not want to work for the Associated Press with the last name that began with an A, because that meant you were at the time that you got hit by everyone. And I think now it’s a little bit easier to differentiate.

Cody Konschak
Yeah, we really try to sort out, store that information and give as much detail these contacts as possible. So you’re not just looking at, you’re not just looking at the beat and their name, right, you’re able to see, like you mentioned before you’re able to see their social profiles, you’re able to do a little bit more research into the types of articles that they’re writing. And you Okay, is this person really the best person to reach out to? I can see their job title as well, is this the right contact for us? So hopefully, we’re we are reading that down to so that we can create the best list as possible.

Brad Grantham
So as we’re organizing our media lists, before we’re putting out a press release, how do you recommend organizing them? Should you have a separate one for every release? Should you break them down by beats and have a huge master list? What do you recommend?

Cody Konschak
I think it’s always good to have a master list of contacts. So you have you have that to work off of right. But I am a firm believer in creating a new list for your press releases. If it’s if it’s if it’s important enough that you are sending out a press release to people then then it’s important enough to create a separate list for it right, it warrants the time it takes to find the right contacts to hit to target. I mean, you’re not just sending a press release to check a box. You unless you’re sending out you know financial wireless, that’s the wire here, you really are trying to get a specific message across. And the only way to do that, I think is by finding the best contacts possible to reach out to the only way to do that is to separate them out into separate lists for these releases.

Chris Shigas
I work for a global company and one of the big changes with GDPR. And and actually even though people think of GDPR is a European thing, many companies are taking on these regulations globally. One of the benefits of using a service like meltwater is I could just say, okay, all the data is going to be over at meltwater, then, then that takes off some of the pressure on me. Can you tell us a little bit about how you’re handling GDPR? And then what? What is the responsibility of the PR professional for them to make sure that they do on their end that they’re in compliance?

Cody Konschak
Great question. I actually dealt with this with a with a client just a couple of weeks ago who had questions about GDPR. So as a company, we are GDPR compliant. So anyone utilizing our database can feel comfortable knowing that if they send a press release from our system to anyone in our database, they are compliant, they don’t have to worry about breaking, breaking that that rule, right. Yeah. But there is there’s also the understood that that comes with the understanding that that only applies to the contacts found in our system. So the other functionality that we have in our media database is the ability to upload your own lists. And that’s where it becomes more of the clients responsibility, that they are reaching out to people that they have the right to reach out to, they have the right to contact them. It’s It’s okay. Because those are the lists that we as a company don’t manage. So it is important to do your due diligence to make sure

Chris Shigas
right, so when somebody uploads the wrong contact, that that’s not spread out to your entire customer base, right. It’s just individual for the user.

Cody Konschak
Correct. So you don’t have to worry about that causing any sort of problems. Anything you add into your own account stays in your own account

Brad Grantham
as we close out this episode, Besides sliding into DM’S, is there anything that you could help us with to generate a better result with our press releases? If you could give one or two tips?

Cody Konschak
Yeah, I think it’s a little bit about what we’ve talked about. But one of the my favorite things is having a consistent template. I’ve worked with clients that change their templates up all the time. And and it’s so easy to resonate with a journalist who opens your email and sees the press release. And they’re like, Oh, you know what, I’ve utilized this information before, it was good information. It helps connect them with previous articles that they’ve written previous relationships they’ve had with you. And just remaining consistent with that, with those conversations. We talked about updating your media lists. We’ve talked about doing your research, take the time, I’m telling you, if you spend a little bit of extra time building those lists out, you will feel much better about sending these sending these press releases out and you’ll get a better response as well. Great. Thank

Chris Shigas
you so much for joining us today, Cody.

Cody Konschak
Thanks, guys. Happy to be here. You can

Chris Shigas
listen to a new episode of PR Wars every Sunday night at 8pm. On behalf of Brad Grantham and the entire PR wars Broadcasting Network. I want to thank Cody Konschak, Managing Director of Client Success at Meltwater and do me a favor. When you have an important press release. spend a little extra time building your media list, be discriminating and strategic. The time you put into your media list will reap dividends for your coverage. Now, go get ’em.

PR Wars was selected as a Top PR Podcast You Must Follow in 2021 by Feedspot.

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