Publicity 101: How To Make a Media List | Ashley M. Biggers | Skillshare

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Publicity 101: How To Make a Media List

teacher avatar Ashley M. Biggers, Journalist and Educator

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.



    • 2.

      Getting started: What's the value of earned media?


    • 3.

      Media Essentials


    • 4.

      Finding Media Outlets


    • 5.

      Identifying Your Story Niche


    • 6.

      Finding Contact Information


    • 7.

      Your Project


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About This Class

Kick your publicity efforts into gear. For many businesses, earning media coverage can seem like magic. This class shows you it isn't magic—it's tactics

Whether you’re an artist, a creative entrepreneur, a small business owner, or all three, this class is for you.

This 20-minute class covers first steps to earn coverage: building your media list. You’ll learn everything from how earning media coverage will benefit you to finding the media outlets most likely to cover your business, organization, or event. You’ll learn to identify the best editors, writers, producers, and hosts to tell your story—and locate their contact information so your story gets into the right hands.  

As a class project, you’ll use a template to create a media list of five to ten media outlets primed to cover your business.

No prior publicity or public relations experience is required!

Meet Your Teacher

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Ashley M. Biggers

Journalist and Educator


Ashley M. Biggers is an award-winning writer and editor. Throughout her 20-year professional writing career, her bylines have appeared in numerous print and digital publications, including USA Today, CNN, Self, Outside, and Paste. She earned her master's degree in mass communications from Arizona State University. 

In her online courses, Ashley uses her insider knowledge as a journalist to help entrepreneurs confidently approach media outlets, share their stories authentically, and amplify that media coverage to benefit their businesses and missions.

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Level: Beginner

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1. Introduction: Hi, I'm Ashley Biggers. I'm a freelance journalist who writes about travel, art, and creative businesses. For the past 15 years, I've told hundreds, maybe even thousands of stories about artists and entrepreneurs for city, regional and national publications. But there are countless great stories that I haven't told, and many other journalists will tell you the same. Why? The answer could be as simple as we haven't heard about them. In other words, the right story hasn't found its way to the right person. I'm going to break down barriers between creative entrepreneurs and journalists so that more of the stories see the light. I'm using my insider's perspective as a journalist to show you how to earn publicity for your business. That'll starts with refining who you're going to contact. In other words, your media-list. Today we're going to cover the value of earning media coverage and the media landscape. Today, we'll talk about how to identify media outlets and journalists who will be interested in covering your business. Then we'll dive into how to find their contact information so you know that the story of your creative business is getting into the right hands. You don't have to be a public relations professional to take this class. In fact, this class is aimed at anyone who's interested in attracting media attention. Whether you're a creative entrepreneur, an artist or vault in a non-profit organization. Your project in this class is to create a list of 5-10 publications who are primed to tell the story that you want to share. Plus, you'll find to journalists contact information. You'll be ready to walk away from this class, ready to pitch your story and earn media coverage. 2. Getting started: What's the value of earned media?: In the age of social media, it's easier than ever to connect directly with your customers. So what's the value of coverage in outlets like newspapers, magazines, blogs, TV and radio. Earning media coverage is essential to growing your brand, customers and ultimately your profits. It should be an essential part of your ongoing marketing and outreach efforts. Although the media continues to come under fire, for the most part media outlets are still trusted sources of information. Having an outside and trusted source saying something positive about your business infuses that message with credibility. More so than if it were coming from you. If an expert in the media says you have the best donuts in town, people are more likely to believe that than if you blasted that same message on your own social media website and E-newsletters. Earned media is perceived as more credible than paid, so It's more trusted than advertising. Ultimately, that means that you'll earn priceless publicity for free. For most businesses, connecting with media outlets means reaching audiences far larger than they ever could reach on their own, and at no monetary cost. To get a sense of the value that certain media coverage has, you can always check out an outlet's Ad rate card to see how much similar coverage would cost were you to try to pay for it. Just to note here, even though media coverage is priceless, that doesn't mean it doesn't have a cost. It will require your time and energy to develop these resources in terms of researching who you're going to contact, pitching and follow it up once you've made contact with journalists. But you'll be targeting publications that your potential customers and stakeholders consume. That means you'll be able to amplify your story and message to the group of people most likely to want to listen to it and take action. Even if the message lands with your existing customers, it's still an opportunity. You'll remind them of the great work you're doing and reinforce that relationship. It may also be a chance for your customers to see you in a new light as you launch your project, reach a milestone, or pursue a new direction. Media coverage also allows you to reach new audiences and grow your potential customer base. Finally, media coverage helps you earn social proof. What social proof? Essentially, it's a psychological phenomenon that drives people to follow the actions of others. What that means for you is that the more words spreads about the value of your creative business, the more desirable it will become. We'll return to the idea of social proof later, but for now let's wrap up this section by reminding you that press coverage is just one piece of the pie in your marketing and outreach efforts. But it's an important piece, and a one they can make a huge difference in the success of your business. 3. Media Essentials: Now let's take a minute to talk about the media landscape. Often finding the right media outlet for you is all relative. For some businesses, it's a mention on a local lifestyle blog, for others is a segment on a national TV show. What makes a difference in your business and your bottom line is entirely up to you and where your audience is. First let's take a quick start of the media outlets available and get you some ideas about how you might expand who you reach out to. Of course you know there are newspapers, but they don't just cover the daily news. They also have special sections that are published daily, weekly, monthly, and even annually that are devoted to specific topics like entertainment, travel, women, family and generations like Baby Boomers to name a few. Those are all opportunities to reach a really targeted audience and a great opportunity for you to do the same. Alternative weekly is also cover a wide range of topics and they've conquered the market with their [inaudible] tone. They tend to appeal to a younger and more indy audience that might be a better fit with the audience that you're looking for than the mainstreams newspapers, plus their best of the city issues are perennial favorites for most cities. Although they might seem like the media landscape is getting smaller, it's actually growing in niche areas. When you think about magazines, think about city-state and racial magazines, but don't discount topical magazines as well, these seem to be popping up all over the place. There are ones for every craft, women's and men's issues, fitness, health, and business to name a few. Because most magazines supplement that are printed editions with ongoing online content, there are a lot of opportunities to gain coverage with them. The variety of blogs closely mirrors the topics of magazines, so there's a great number of those opportunities as well. Wouldn't most creatives think about TV opportunities? They likely mostly picture morning talk shows and lifestyle shows. Those national shows are certainly the holy grail. But don't discount your local morning talk shows. They are always looking for segments on crafts, cooking, and local events, so they are great places to hit up as well. Radio has swayed into the booming podcasts industry and those avenues are always looking for fascinating business owners interview, so there are great opportunities there as well. To find the appropriate media outlets for you, it's important to consider the changing media landscape. It used to be that blogs were an easier route to coverage then saying newspapers, magazines, or TV. But today that no longer really holds true. Some blogs have larger followings than some magazines. In most cases however, larger publications will want to see some social proof before they grant you coverage, so many times that means you should start with smaller media outlets in whatever venue you're pursuing and use coverage there to build up to national publications. The exceptions where you might be able to skip the line a little bit in this process is if you already have a vast social media following that will really want to attract national coverage. The media landscape today is certainly more complex and there are a lot of avenues into it, but that also means that there are a lot of opportunities for you to pitch stories and a lot of different ways to get media coverage. Now that we've talked about the many opportunities for coverage, let's talk about matching up your story idea with the right publication. 4. Finding Media Outlets: As a journalist, I receive email pitches on a daily basis. Many times even the subject line of the email earns it an instant delete. For me and many journalists, it's a survival technique. We're deluged with information and so anything that isn't directly relevant to our outlet and our interest, doesn't get much further than the front page of our inbox. But even then, some great stories can get lost. For you, that instant delete is a waste of time and energy. So making sure that your message gets into the right hands is paramount. The easiest place to start with making your media list is looking to the places that you read, watch, and listen to within your industry. You're the expert in your field and you know where you look for eye candy, inspiration, and advice. Make a list of those outlets. If you'd like to share them here with your other Skillshare class participants, please do. These may be dream media outlets for you now, but don't let that dissuade you. Make note of the publications. Maybe you're not ready to be featured in them today, but you will be someday. Next, you want to think about what your customers are reading, watching, and listening to. If you aren't sure, just ask them either in conversation or over social media. For example, if you were a fashion designer for 20-somethings women's clothing, your audience is likely not watching morning news shows in your area or reading the newspaper daily. Instead, they'll be following fashion blogs and picking up lifestyle magazines aimed at their demographic. So make a list of all the places your current customers get their information. If it happens that your current customers and ideal customers aren't really matching right now, then you want to add the outlets where you think your ideal customers will get their information too, so that you can grow your customer base. Now you want to think about your geographic area. So make a list of all your local city magazines, newspapers, including those special sections that may apply to you. You'll also want to include state travel and cultural magazines and regional publications on that list as well. For the South, Southwest or even the Northeast. Think about your local morning talk shows on TV and radio, also. You'll also want to think about top culture, city living, and style blogs in your area. Now it's time to do your homework. You need to actually read, watch, or listen to the media outlets that you plan to approach. This will give you a sense of what types of stories they're looking for and their approach to storytelling. If you're finding stories that are very similar to yours, great. That publication is probably a fit. If not, you're probably going to have to keep looking. As you're watching, there're a couple of things you'll want to look out for. Usually, media outlets have certain segments that they'll have in every publication or show. Perhaps a magazine always spotlights a new restaurant, or a morning television show always includes a segment on how to make a recipe. Or perhaps a newspaper's entertainment sections always spotlights an artist. Perhaps a podcast always features an interview with an inspiring creative. You'll want to make a note of those specific columns and segments that appear regularly. Those are slots that always need filling and present great opportunities for you to tell your story. You'll want to make note of the people who are creating those segments. Those are the journalists you'll want to approach if your story is a fit for that section. Keep in mind that if you're not willing to spend a few minutes looking through past segments of the show, don't expect the publication or journalist to spend time wading through your message, email, or press release. It's great to do your research in advance. Now that you have a list of potential media outlets to contact, how do you decide which ones to prioritize? 5. Identifying Your Story Niche: To decide which publications you want to approach right now, you'll need to think about your goal. Doing media outrage should become a regular part of your marketing efforts and what you want to prioritize may change over time. Now, it might be your business launch, but later it might be how you've changed the game or hit a milestone. Let's look at a couple of examples that will get you brainstorming about the types of media outlets to approach that fit the story you want to tell. For example, you're a wedding photographer. Do you want to share your work so that it's found by your potential clients? Then, you're likely looking for a wedding magazine or wedding blocks. If you're looking to inspire photographers with your process, then you're looking for a publication that speaks to other creatives. Or, do you have advice to share about how you multiplied your business five times in the past year with an innovative marketing technique? Then you're probably looking for a business publication that will cover trends and strategy. Let's look at another example. Say you're a baker. Do you want to spotlight your special Mother's Day inspired cakes? Then you're likely looking for a local TV morning show, local paper or city magazine. Or, are you willing to share your recipes and techniques? Then you're likely looking for a lifestyle magazine or a DIY blog. Lastly, have you tapped into the vegan cupcake trend? Then you might approach a consumer TV show, a health and fitness magazine, or a business publication. Keep in mind that if publications perceive themselves as direct competitors, they'll want to avoid covering the same subjects in the same way. For example, if you plan to pitch two national magazines on your woodworking business, you'll need to have different approaches for each. Perhaps in one you could pitch a DIY article about how to make an easy frame for your bathroom near. To the other, you might pitch a lifestyle story that features picnic table set that you made. Same business, different content for competing publications. Now that you have your mission in mind, let's talk about how to get in contact with media outlets and journalists. 6. Finding Contact Information: Now, it's time to get down to details and find the best ways to get in touch with publications. Today, it's very rare that an editor or a contributor will accept cold phone call or return a voicemail from a cold contact. As the process unfolds, you might be invited to speak with a journalist or contributor on the phone or he or she may reach out to ask follow-up questions. However, for the first contact, it's always best to email or submit via an online contact form. Some sites have very specific pages devoted to how to pitch ideas, and that will always include a submission form or an email address. Otherwise, you'll need to seek out contact information in the 'about us' or 'contact us' sections of their website. You may be wondering if these generic contact forms and emails go into a digital black hole. I know, I wonder the same thing. But if the media outlet is very clear about how they want to receive ideas, it's best to follow that method. I know many media outlets that simply won't read the information if it doesn't arrive through the correct channels and with the information specified. If the outlet that uses that method; in general, they're pretty good about sending you a prompt response, even if that response is negative. Or having an auto response setup that will tell you more about their policies for accepting ideas and a time frame to expect a response. If specific pitch procedures aren't specified, and in cases where editors, reporters, and writers emails are widely shared, it's totally acceptable to reach out to them directly. Now, if an outlet shares an editor's contact information, is it always best to go straight to the editor? Not always. Editors are deluged with emails, and many times their emails being filtered through an assistant or an intern. It can be a quicker path to reach out to a specific journalist or journalists who are more likely to champion your story to their editors. The same turn for TV, it's not necessarily better to reach out to the anchor. Instead, you want to reach out to the producers and the reporters because they're the ones actually doing the story planning and the background work before the anchor presents the information on air. You'll also want to look for contributors who cover a particular beat. A beat as a topic area that a journalist covers frequently and is considered an expert in. A few examples are politics, arts and culture, travel, lifestyle, and food. If the contributor's email address isn't available on an author bio page on the outlet's website, you can only search for her online. Many journalists have professional portfolio sites that showcase their work. Those sites will share a way to get in touch. Plus, you'll be able to get further insight about the types of articles that they create; or the types of segments that they produce. Social media, including Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, are also stellar ways to see what journalists are writing about and find contact information. If you're interested in establishing a long-term working relationship with the journalist, then follow them on social media. Like, respond, and share their posts. They'll likely take notice; and if they don't, then you're still learning valuable information about how to pitch that journalist. If you follow them, you may also catch them soliciting story ideas and asking for people to share their information. That takes all the guesswork out of the types of stories that they're looking for. Just respond to their call for story ideas if it's pertinent to you. Finally, journalists generally share their email addresses in their social media profiles. You'll have a way to reach out to them directly. Now, let me spend just a couple of moments discussing the role of freelance writers, and reporters. Freelance contributors are people who work as independent contractors for publications. They don't work for one publication, show or blog. Rather, they contribute to a variety of them. They both, take assignments from media outlets as well as actively pitch ideas to them. Freelance contributors can be great assets. Sometimes even more so than making contact with an individual publication, because freelancers work with a variety of outlets and they're always looking to play stories. To find freelance contributors in your geographic area or niche, simply search for freelance writers or reporters plus the topic or city that you live in. 7. Your Project: Today we've talked about a lot. We've talked about the benefits that media coverage can provide to your business and you've developed a better understanding of the media outlets available. We've discussed how to identify the right outlets for your particular story niche and easy ways to find contributors contact information. Check out my other class, Publicity 101. How to pitch for next steps? That class dives into how to craft a pitch email to journalists? When to send it and how to follow up? With these lessons in mind, it's time to dive in and begin building your media list. Use the template provided here and the video lessons to research the best outlets for your business and journalists to get in touch with. It would be exceptional if all your pitches landed. Especially, the first time out. But that's not likely to happen so it's good to have a working list of at least 5-10 outlets to approach and solid contact information for each. That will give you plenty of opportunities to find a home for your story. With that in hand, you'll be well on your way to earning media attention.