By P.A. Geddie

Most media outlets want to help promote your towns and events. You just need to make it easy for them. With hundreds of topics to cover daily, they don’t often have time to chase down every story. Help them gather the news and they’ll appreciate it and you will reap the benefits.

It’s a good idea to spend some time developing a solid media list that you can use to send press releases. If you are worried about your writing skills, don’t — just get the facts down as clearly as possible and as detailed as possible. If they have to search for a phone number or website they might just drop the whole thing because of time restrictions. We’ll cover more about how to write a good press release in another blog. For now, let’s concentrate on building your list and relationships.

First, build your list in a format you can easily use such as Excel or Word that can transfer to an email or some email programs will allow you to set up a group and that’s a great idea.

To decide who goes on your list, you’ll want to look at how far out you think you can attract people. If you’re having a pie contest with five entries for instance, you will want a smaller, more local-based media list. If you can manage thousands of people for a festival for instance, include the larger metroplex areas. Depending on its impact a 200-300 mile radius is acceptable.

You are already familiar with your local media so write those down noting telephone and email contact information. Be sure to include newspapers, magazines, TV, and radio. Most of the legitimate media outlets have good online sites as well.

Be sure to keep up with whose in charge of writing or directing news for tourism or real estate-based activities for instance. People come and go so pay attention when emails come back as undeliverable and contact the media to get the new person’s info.

Make sure you don’t abuse your media relationships. Depending on the circumstances, you’ll want to find out what an appropriate amount of press releases is acceptable and always make sure they are about something NEW and NEWSWORTHY. Sending frivolous press releases will mark you as an unreliable source and they will stop paying attention to what you send.

Get to know your media people and invite them to events as your guests as often as possible.

Once you’ve got your local media down, expand your list to include the Northeast Texas region and then the Dallas/Fort Worth, Austin, Houston, San Antonio, and Shreveport markets. One place to start is and Google searches will turn up others. Texas Media Directory and other similar services will also manage your press releases for you for a fee if you don’t have the staff or time to manage your own lists.

While you are building your media list, be sure to note sites that have online calendars and upload your event information to as many as possible.

It’s an ongoing process but paying attention to media relations for a few minutes each week will bring great results for you in promoting your town and events.