May 11, 2020

Annette Densham

The list. The list. The list.

I was thinking the other day about what is the most important asset a business owner has. And that is the list.

My mind went back to my time in network marketing.  It was always being drummed into us that the power is in the list.


Your client list or database (and building it) is how you keep your business growing.

The next most powerful list, IMHO, is your media contact list. Working on your business, focusing on your marketing, which includes PR through storytelling, is just as vital to your business growth because that third party credibility brings more people to your ‘shopfront’. But how do you get a journalist’s name on your list?

Once you have figured out your stories, knowing who to send those stories is a stumbling block for many small businesses. True?   It is not that hard to do.

But … the first thing you need to do is identify your ideal media contact.  You do that by understanding who your ideal client is. Once you understand that, you know what they are reading, listening and watching.

There is no point in spending time crafting a great story if you do not know where to send or, even worse, send it to a platform that your client has nothing to do with.

So if your client is a 40 something woman, running her own business making skin care, earning $150k per year, who lives on Facebook and Pinterest, is an active networker, listens to personal development and women in business-orientated podcasts, reads small business publications, loves Kochie on Sunrise, subscribes to Flying Solo and listens to the afternoon program on ABC, there is no point cultivating a relationship with a journalist at The Australian. 

Make sense?

Your list will include:

  • Small business publications
  • Podcast shows
  • Small business bloggers
  • Sunrise
  • Flying Solo
  • ABC radio

The challenge is not making your list TOO big.  Think about it … how hard is it to manage multiple relationships in your everyday life? How many friends can you truly connect with meaningfully? Same goes for the relationships you develop with a journalist.

You want to become a valuable source.

Someone who can be counted in and trusted to understand the media game.

Understand what makes a good story for that media outlet.

Once you understand this, start building a media contact list.

Don’t just pitch just anyone. You want to make sure the person you share your story with is the right one … that they cover your topic. 

So … how do you find the right journalist?

Get to know the media outlet you want to be in. Watch, listen and read the outlet you want to be in. Print publications publish bylines – the name of the person writing the story. TV reporters are introduced by name. Radio presenters … you get the idea.

Make sure the journalist is the right fit for your story …that they actually cover your topic. After all, you do not want the story to be ‘filed’ (deleted).

Some media outlets (when I say media outlets – I mean traditional and new media) publish the details of their journalist on the contact page.  If not, it is fairly simple to find out.

Google is your friend – search the journalist’s name and publication. If a name or contact details are not found, do this …Go the contact page and see if the contact details are there.

No luck?

Try this: if you have found someone else’s contact details on the site, quite often the naming conventions of an organisation are the same. So if you found but you are looking for Steve Smith, change the email to

Still nothing? There is this handy device called the phone. Call the number, ask to be put through to the newsroom and ask for the contact details.

You can buy media contact lists.

Connect with your ideal media contact on Twitter – engage with them and build a relationship that way

I keep all my contacts in a spreadsheet so I can keep track of what I’ve sent and when. You can also keep notes on what each journalist – how they like being contacted (phone or email), the best time to call, fav topics to write about.

The power is in the list.

  • Your list is a living document.
  • Keep it updated.
  • Keep it fresh.
  • Keep it safe.

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Annette Densham

Annette Densham is an international award-winning publicity expert with a 30 plus year career in newspapers – The Australian, Financial Review, and Daily Telegraph, magazines (print and digital) and corporate communications. She uses her expertise to teach small business people how to use their stories to connect with the world and build influential brands.

Annette is also a stand-up comedian, and as an author, trainer, mentor and speaker, she weaves her story magic everywhere.

annette densham

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