Media databases are a tool that many PR agencies and in-house departments use to develop comprehensive media lists. While these can be an important tool, one common mistake that PR professionals make is relying solely on a media database to create the list. Once you develop a base list, manual research and verification is critical to developing good, accurate lists while the database itself should simply be used to help supplement the contact details.
For small, local companies, a comprehensive database may not be necessary since there are only a few reporters who are relevant to the brand. Targeted local research can be done easily, and you should follow those reporters closely. For agencies with multiple clients in multiple industries, these media databases can be vital to managing a wide variety of media lists. If you are an organization with a PR agency, it is likely your PR agency already subscribes to a media database, so you may not need to pay for one as a company.
When choosing the right media database for you, it’s a good idea to first research, then demo your favorite two or three programs, similar to my suggestions in part I of this series.
When demoing the product, make sure that the search and list features are user friendly, then ask to try it out for a week to navigate it in your own time. It’s best to demo a product like this in an area you’re already familiar with so you can see if the results make sense.
Lastly, compare a few contacts that you have on your existing media list with the database. It is likely that you know of a few reporters that you work with often. If the email address begins with something like “editorial@“ or “info@,” then it isn’t providing you with any real useful information — in this case, you want the email of the reporter, not the generic newsroom address. Additionally, if all of the reporter phone numbers for a certain publication are the same, then they are not providing the direct line for a reporter, which is essential to getting in touch with a specific reporter in a breaking news situation.
In my experience, Cision is the best because it is the largest, most comprehensive media database that I have used. That doesn’t mean it is right for you or your company though. It is important to review all options and compare them to your organizations goals before making a decision.
Having a solid media list is one of the most important tools for a public relations professionals, but it isn’t imperative that you create it using a media database. A media database is likely to cost tens of thousands of dollars per year, so make sure that you need it before you make the investment.