The Secret Art of Media Research

January 2005
by Jodee Blanco

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You’re armed and ready with a fabulous press kit jam-packed with provocative angles, newsworthy hooks, and great story ideas. You’re chomping at the bit to begin pitching media, to get as much exposure for your book as possible. Where do you go from here?

One of the most vital elements of any publicity campaign is sound media research. You need to know whom to pitch and what they want. No matter how talented you are at selling story ideas to producers and editors, if you don’t understand how to generate print and broadcast leads, you’ve entered the media marathon with two weak ankles. Media research is so much more than pulling databases or looking up names and numbers in Bacon’s media guides. It’s a methodical, highly creative process that demands persistence, pitbull-like aggression, attention to detail, and a relentless investigative instinct.

Everyone automatically assumes that the most important characteristic of a good publicist is courage. While an ability to take risks is crucial, it pales in comparison to curiosity. It’s like the old fable of the tortoise and the hare. The publicist who rushes through the media research phase of the campaign is like the hare, who’s so focused on the finish line that it underestimates the challenge. The publicist who takes the time to research which media are the most appropriate to pitch may be slower out of the gate, but in the end will win far more coverage.

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