Media is an important part of your role as a publicist. Let’s unpack how to work with media outlets to help amplify your client’s stories.
From the News tab on Google to the cable channel list, media outlets are practically everywhere. We live in a world filled with media that cover every topic imaginable — politics, celebrities, business and finance … even the world’s biggest pizza. (If you’re curious, it weighed over 26,000 pounds.)
So, with so many media outlets and story opportunities out there, it can be puzzling which outlets to target and which may not be the best fit for your clients.
In this post, we unpack the different media outlets, how to decipher which is best for your client, and some best practices gain coverage.
(Go ahead and tap that Bookmark button at the top of your window; I promise you’ll be coming back to this post.)
What is a media outlet?
Media outlets are publications, broadcasts, and other programs that provide news and updates to audiences through various distribution channels.
Some media outlets live on a singular channel, like a local radio station only broadcasting via radio. Others own media through multiple channels, such as TV, blogging, and social media.
The 21st century has introduced a lot of nontraditional news channels, too. Nowadays, people get their news through all kinds of media outlets. Here’s a list of all media outlets, both traditional and non-traditional.
TV is probably the most commonly thought-of media outlet, especially when it comes to news. From large news stations to niche networks, there are countless media outlets on television. TV is arguably the toughest media outlet on which to gain coverage, due to its vast audience.
Examples: CNN, ABC, ESPN, local news stations
Once the most popular way to consumer news, radio is now used mostly by those on daily commutes. For that reason, most radio news segments take place during morning or evening rush hour. Unlike TV, radio is primarily location-based, meaning different channels are popular in different cities and regions.
Examples: WTOP-FM (Washington D.C.), WABC-AM (NYC), KCBS-AM (San Francisco)
Newspapers and Magazines
Daily and weekly newspapers and magazines, despite the rise in digital media, are still heavily in circulation. Newspapers and magazines are typically best for reaching regional audiences, as many are community-based and cover news from a local angle.
Examples: Washington Post, New York Post, Better Homes and Gardens, People Magazine
Online publications, which are also called blogs or digital magazines, are like newspapers and magazines but published online. Journalists and bloggers contribute to the website instead of printing their articles on paper. Some blogs were once print magazines that moved online; others were founded on digital media.
Examples: Forbes, Business Insider, Huffington Post, Buzzfeed
Social media allows businesses and organizations to share their own stories and news directly with their audiences. Some media outlets mentioned above also post content on social media. This medium also allows organizations to engage with their followers through commenting and messaging. Social media is by far the most interactive media outlet on this list.
Examples: Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram
Looking to media outlets in certain cities and regions? Reference our top media outlet lists.
Working With Media Outlets
With so many news and media outlets, surely it’s easy to get coverage … right? Not always.
With more news (or the lack thereof) comes higher standards. Journalists aren’t just looking for news; they’re hungry for remarkable news. Stories that delight both their readers and their editors. And not every story that makes it to the proverbial front page is newsworthy.
If you’re looking to share a remarkable story on behalf of your client, you should determine what outlets are relevant for your message. Not only will this help you craft a medium-appropriate message, but it will also force you to determine who will be reading your message and how you can speak directly to them to meet your goals.
According to PR influencer Jennifer Berson, “the most important component of successful media outreach is matching the idea or story angle to the publication and the writer, and sending a strategic, targeted, and tailored pitch email. Having a compelling story is not enough. You have to match that story to the outlet where it’s a perfect fit for their editorial focus and will add value to their readership.”
So, when it comes to choosing the appropriate news outlet for your clients, do these two things.
1. Define your audience.
Ask yourself this: Who is your audience? Who is your client trying to reach and get to read their news? Who would be interested in what your client has to share? What kinds of people do they target with their business (products or services)?
Your answer to these questions should determine what media outlet(s) are the best fit for your client and their story.
For example, let’s say your client was a women’s yoga clothing line looking to grow their business in your local community. Their idea was to target a sports magazine that’s popular around the country. Although it has a massive audience, it wouldn’t be the best media outlet for your client. Why? Not only would that coverage be expensive, but when it comes to the media, a smaller, more focused, more relevant readership or viewership is always better than a broad, unfocused audience.
This is for two reasons. One, your time and money is better spent appealing to a focused audience you know is interested in your client’s message. Second, targeting niche audiences makes it easier for journalists and editors to relate your story to their readership. It’s a win-win.
2. Define your goals.
Next, work with your client to decide: What are the goals of this PR outreach? What do you hope the media coverage achieves for the client?
If your client’s goal is to boost awareness of the company or start a discussion around the brand, a larger media outlet with a broader audience is likely the way to go. On the other hand, if your client wants to attract new paying customers, a smaller, niche audience may be a better fit as those audience members tend to be more knowledgeable and focused.
Let’s return to the yoga clothing line example. Say the business was just looking to get its name out there and make women who liked yoga aware of the brand.
In that case, they could target larger media outlets (although perhaps more honed in ones than the sports magazine). But if the brand wanted to sell products to new customers, it would be a better idea to target smaller yoga blogs, influencers, and local studios. In this case, it would probably see a better ROI.
Once you’ve defined your client’s audience and goals, it’s time to build media relations and develop your media pitch. (We’ve written helpful blog posts on both of these topics — go ahead, open them in different tabs so you can read them later.)
After building relationships and writing pitches (much easier said than done — seriously, we consider reading our article), consider investing in a media monitoring tool to help track your client’s mentions and coverage.
Doing so can save you considerable time and energy as you’d otherwise have to manually track this activity. Covered Press is a popular tool for this very use — as publicists and PR professionals collaborate with media outlets, the software allows you to track connections, see mentions in real-time, and develop gorgeous reports for clients.