By Rachel Sherman
Choosing a media contacts database is a very important decision for public relations professionals as identifying the right contacts can make or break the success of a media campaign. We’ve compiled a list of the key features you should consider when evaluating your options. Don’t be afraid to ask specific questions, and more importantly, consider only those solutions that provide the most satisfactory answer.
Data accuracy & reliability
If an accurate and reliable media contacts database can help you do your job more effectively, imagine how a database fraught with bad data will negatively impact your campaigns. You want to be certain that the data you are accessing is high quality. Some questions you’ll want to ask are:
- How is the information included in the database gathered?
- If a research team is gathering the information, what are their qualifications? Are they a third party vendor or an in-house team? How many full-time researchers are on the team? Am I able to contact them with feedback?
- Are profiles clearly marked with the date of their last verification/update?
- How frequently are profiles updated?
Some database providers update only the top tier of profiles – those most frequently accessed by users. This is usually the top 20% of their database, which means that profiles for journalists who write for publications in smaller markets or cover lower profile topics are rarely updated making it quite difficult for you to reach them if their contact details have changed.
Detailed profile information
It is especially important to find a media contacts database that also provides specific and detailed information about a journalist. Some things to look for beyond publication and beat include:
- Various avenues of contact (physical address, email, social media)
- Biographical information
- Pitching tips
You’ll also want to note how the database is set up. Look for a database in which each journalist is listed once with all the publications to which they contribute in one entry, rather than multiple entries for a journalist, each listing a different publication. This will ensure that when you send to your distribution list, you’ll send to your targets once instead of multiple messages and you’ll be using your distribution points more efficiently.
Campaign tracking and task management
A good media contacts database should provide more than just media contacts. It should also give you tools to help manage your campaigns. Look for a tool that allows you to assign and manage tasks as well as track your time spent on a campaign.
You shouldn’t have to spend countless hours getting trained on how to use a media contacts database. The user interface should make sense, be easy-to-use and have features that actually help you manage your work, not features that are bells and whistles that you rarely use. It should be easy to conduct searches and should return relevant results quickly.
Accessing help when you have a question or need assistance should be a key factor in your decision. You’ll want to find out the following as you search for a solution that offers quality customer support from a team of experts:
- Will there be an account manager assigned to me?
- What are the hours in which support is available?
- How am I able to contact the support team?
There is no shortage of media contact databases available. To be certain that you are choosing the one that works best for your needs, you’ll have to ask the right questions and compare answers. While it may seem like a daunting process, the end result is well worth your time and effort.