Excel doomed as media relations manager tool


Social networking seems to be the best way to find, get in touch, and communicate with your buddies, no doubt about that. 750 million active users on Facebook, and recently a huge investment from Google to win the network battle, says something about that. Millions of discussion forums of all kind. People are truly connected to each other of thousands of reasons. And communities make perfectly sense for millions of people in millions of contexts. Not least professional. PR in particular. Communicators flock to networks, craving for likes and followers. Journalists as well. To meet their audience.

But what’s happening in the business of media relations in this amazing era of communication? Not much! An excel sheet seems to be the main tool for communicators, and journalists refer to their overloaded inboxes.

I had a great meeting with a PR communicator a few weeks ago. We were discussing the best way for her to find and organize her contacts. And not least get in touch and exchange experiences with them.
My prejudices became incorporated. She was working with an excel sheet. And as far as I’ve understood it is more of a rule than an exception. A wild guess says that 8 out of 10 of PR communicators are doing so.

Not the best media relations manager tool in the world - but the most common?

 

I recently run into a post on “The DIY PR blog – handle your own PR” which began with the sentence: “When you are doing your own PR it’s very important to have a system in place to track all of your pitching outreach efforts.” One of these “systems” was:

“Excel spreadsheet – Start an Excel spreadsheet media list to track all of your outreach efforts. You can have different tabs for each type of outlet – one for magazines, one for websites, one of local/regional media, etc. You could even set one up for editorial calendar postings that you find. Be sure to include the outlet, name, email, phone and any other relevant notes. Every time you communicate with someone make note of it in the “notes” column. Then, once a week or once a month (depending on timing of the outlet and your follow-up needs), go through each tab to be sure you are staying on top of it all.

The communicator I met said to me that’s exactly how she was dealing with media relations.

She said to me that she knew the most important journalists, and what they’re covering and writing about. She’s finding her contacts out of basic research of media. She’s making notes about their needs and wants in her sheet, and based on that she’s sharing her stories by phone and e-mail.

She said:
“As a matter of fact media relations isn’t much different from your personal relations; you’re trying to find out who you’d like to play with, and then start contribute with your life experiences based on what you’ve learned they and you have in common; your social objects.”

I said:
“Yeah, I agree, but you don’t organize your personal contacts in an excel sheet, right?

She started to laugh and said:
“Oh no… Facebook is taking care of that.”

We both realize that Excel isn’t primarily a communication tool. Not even assisted with an e-mail client.

So what would be the best place for communicators to keep and organize their most influential contacts like journalists etc? And vice versa.

Newswires like Cision? It says to be “the world’s largest database of media contacts with all of the information you need to uncover the influencers that matter”. Sounds great but the journalists (so called “target group”) are not engaged. Cision is not an engagement platform. It might even be a spam tool if used indiscriminately.
Facebook? Well, communicators (on behalf of their companies) might have a page and/or a group to meet and discuss with their audience (end customers, etc), but when it comes to media relations, they sometimes would like an exclusive exchange with one or a few of their journalist contacts. LinkedIn? Oh yes, that’s a great professional network. But hard to share content, and still linked to you personally.
Salesforce? It’s not a network on both terms, right? Hard to get a proper community with mutual exchange.
Google+? Maybe – we don’t know yet. Easy to synchronize with your G-mail contacts and create different circles of important people. But the communication is still widely open, and not content driven as the communicator often wants it to be.

And so on…

None of these and others seems to completely fit the communicators and journalists needs and wants when int comes to media relations?

What would you say about a network for journalists and communicators to exchange info and experiences with each other on both terms? I’m talking about a service that allows communicators to find their most influential people on the web, add them to their contacts lists, invite them to a network where they can organize them and communicate with them exclusively. Not least – a tool that allows journalists to find, follow, and send requests to their sources? A network based on the community that has been existing for many years, but still have great potential to flourish with new web service technologies.

How do your media relations look like, when it comes to find, organize and communicate with your contacts?

Please – feel free to respond to some questions in this survey. It just take a minute of your time, and I will send you the summary later on.