It’s the beginning of a new quarter, so it’s time to do some housekeeping. Each and every quarter I remind you to update your media list, and I do so for many reasons:
- As a courtesy. We all like to be appropriately identified and recognized, and it’s a bonus if our names are spelled correctly. When there’s a change in personnel, we can usually get away with sending something to the prior recipient for 3 to 6 months. After that, whatever we send is likely to go straight to the trash, unopened. One time I asked a news director if she opens everything she receives. She said, “If it’s addressed it to me, I do. John’s been gone for over a year. Don’t you think it’s about time they learn my name?”
- Updating your mailing list gives you an opportunity to make contact and remind the media that you’re available as a source. Maybe they’ll call you when they want to talk about programs available to kids who want to avoid the summer knowledge slide.
- For your publishers. It’s important to have an updated media list for publishers who send authors to your store so they can do their own media outreach. If you’ve been updating your list each quarter, it will not take much time to make sure your media list is current.
There are two types of media lists. One is a list of top media outlets in your area with specific contacts for tv, radio, newspaper, etc., that can be used as a tool for publishers who do media outreach for events. The other list is for you: a press list for news releases, which can be local, statewide, or national. You probably have this list set up in spreadsheet form, or directly in your email. Here’s how to update each list.
Has anyone retired or moved on to a different market? It takes just a few minutes to call those on your list to verify that the contacts you have are still appropriate. Media outlets should include radio, television, and all of the weekly, daily, and specialty newspapers in your area. If the newspaper is large enough to have a book page and a children/family writer, list names for these individual specialties. And news directors at radio and television stations tend to change often, so be sure to call them. For each individual listed, include the name, title, e-mail address, phone and fax numbers, and mailing address.
Once you’re finished, add an “Updated 04/01/15” footnote, then save it as a PDF. Now it’s ready to send to any publicist who might be sending an author your way.
Press Release List
Since these releases are best sent via email, errors can leave an long-lasting digital trail. Look at the reports from the latest releases you’ve sent. Are the bounces consistent? Some emails bounce because a mailbox might be full, or the recipient’s email service might have some other temporary glitch. But if an email address consistently shows up in the bounced field, you probably have a bad address. A quick web search or a phone call will yield the correct address for press releases.
Is your reach extended far enough? How far are customers willing to drive for an event? Pre-event coverage in area papers can help increase attendance numbers, so be sure to include daily and weekly newspapers from a wide radius surrounding your store. Area press associations often provide a list of newspapers with contact information on their websites. Here is a directory of state, regional and national press associations from the Newspaper Associations of America.