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Free Software Foundation; Forward: AbleStable®
brings his considerable expertise to bear in providing
some great strategies for developing a list of new
media contacts. If you're a small creative company
and can't afford the services of a marketing expert,
read on. You'll save yourself frustration and time
as you start developing a contact list that will be
worth its weight in gold.
Internet was built to facilitate communications, so
it always surprises me how difficult it is to find
basic information for new media contacts: names, addresses,
phone numbers, etc. The hype is that the net lets
you communicate easily with anyone, anywhere, but
the interface doesn't do you any good if the people
you want to reach are hiding behind a wall of anonymity.
A Typical Scenario
Follow me for a minute. Let's say you work for a pharmaceutical
company that just developed a powerful new anti-impotence
drug and people are hungry for information about it.
You decide to put a spokesperson on live chat to answer
questions from your target audience. Your research
shows that "TechTime Productions" runs the
"Men's Health" forum on America Online.
They have a large audience and live chat facilities
- a perfect fit. Now, try finding the name of the
person in charge of booking Men's Health chats.
First you look around the site. You find a link to
"Meet the Staff." You click on it and get
a list of over 100 screen names like "TechTimeTed"
and "MHMartha" with no job titles. You start
working your way through the list one at a time, hoping
to find a chat host. Most of the staff profiles are
vague; they usually contain only the person's first
name, never a phone number.
Time for Plan B. Let's see if we can find a phone
number for TechTime Productions. If you're smart,
you'll head straight to the section of the forum called
"how to advertise with us" - it's likely
to have the only contact information on the site.
Maybe you can find a number for TechTime in an online
phone directory? You call and ask to speak with the
chat coordinator for Men's Health on America Online.
You get bounced a few times, put on hold a few times,
and finally dropped into a voicemail box (if you're
Who Are the New Media?
New media contacts are critical to the success of
online public relations and marketing. Important contacts
These people run special-interest discussion groups
called "newsgroups" and "mailing lists."
There are over 20,000 newsgroups and 25,000 mailing
lists available through the Internet.
E-zines are newsletters delivered to subscribers via
e-mail. They are often archived on the web as well.
They usually deal with niche subjects rather than
These people run forums on America Online, CompuServe,
and other online services. They are sometimes called
"sysops" or "wizops," though these
terms are quickly giving way to more familiar titles
such as "editor" or "producer."
These are the people who schedule live online appearances.
Sometimes called Chat Coordinators, they are usually
responsible for promoting and moderating the chats
These are the people who manage web sites. On smaller
sites, they may make content decisions and accept
news releases. Larger sites might have news directors
or editors who will be your primary contacts.
Finding Contact Information
for the New Media
The first rule of PR is that you're only as good as
your contact list. To be successful at online media
relations, you have to get close to the people who
can make your stories come alive online. Unfortunately,
there is no equivalent in the online world to directories
like "Bacon's" or "Gale's." For
the most part, you have to find these contacts yourself,
slowly building your own database. Here are some hard-earned
tips for breaking through the wall of anonymity surrounding
online media contacts:
Go to phone as quickly as possible. It's harder to
give you the brush-off on the phone. Resist the temptation
to rely on e-mail to reach new media contacts.
Go through the ad sales department. When looking for
webmasters or other web site media, forget about using
the "feedback" or "contact us"
links on a web site - if you ever do get a reply,
it will likely be form mail that is of no help at
To find chat hosts, stay away from staff boxes and
look for transcripts of old chats. You can usually
find the screen name of the right person to contact
a lot faster from transcripts than you can from "about
On CompuServe, every forum has a "Sysop Roster"
and you can usually find the full names and e-mail
addresses of forum hosts and chat hosts there. It's
a little tricky to find the roster: enter the forum,
go to the "welcome" section, go into the
"announcements" sub section, and there you'll
see a link to "sysop roster."
To find moderators of mailing lists and newsgroups,
try some of the resource links below. First, search
them by subject to find groups related to specific
topics. Then drill down until you get a description
of the group that includes a moderator's name and
It's not easy finding new media contacts, but it's
worth the effort. For people serious about developing
online media relations, it's important to start building
a good database of these contacts. It will help you
immensely in distributing news about your company,
and could save your assets if you find yourself in
crisis communications mode.
Finding New Media Contacts
Stunningly good resource for finding mailing lists.
Searches through 9000 Listserv mailing lists.
Search for Groups
The absolute best way to search for newsgroups.
Nifty service for finding both newsgroups and mailing
Companion site to Steve O'Keefe's book, The Complete
Guide to Internet Publicity.
O'Keefe is a prolific writer. He has edited
six newsletters and has written more than
100 articles and several books. His writing
has appeared in Harper's, The Wall Street
Journal, Outside, Salon, HotWired, NetWorth,
Entrepreneur, Curio, and dozens of other magazines.
He was one of the original writers for Internet
World magazine, a columnist for the COSMEP
Newsletter, and a frequent contributor to
Small Press, PMA Newsletter, SPAN Connection,
and other publishing periodicals.
Steve's writing has been anthologized in several
books, including Publicity Basics, by the
Council of Literary Magazines and Presses.
His book Complete
Guide to Internet Publicity is reviewed
at AbleStable® (John Wiley & Sons,
2002-2007), the successor to the critically acclaimed
'bestseller', Publicity on the Internet (Wiley,
Adjunct Faculty, Tulane University College
Executive Director, Patron Saint Productions,
741 Saint Philip St. #241, New Orleans, LA
Voice: (504) 586-9517 Fax: (504) 586-9518
Web Site: http://www.patronsaintpr.com
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