1. Creating a Media Contact Database

You cannot underestimate the importance of maintaining and continually updating a database of editorial contacts who have an explicit or implied interest in Linux and your organization. Directories available in your local reference library list publications of every description, giving the full particulars of their readership, editorial staff (often with contact information), circulation, publication frequency, areas of coverage, and other relevant information. Consulting these directories is the first step towards building your media database.

Time must be spent in researching names and contact information for your database. You will need to know the audiences of each publication, names of key editors, these editors' responsibilities, the dates of special-focus issues concerning Linux, and more. This information will allow you to do a better job of targeting your news to the right media contacts. For instance, there may be occasions when you want your news to reach certain editors but not others. Your news may only concern a portion of your database, such as the educational community. Your research (and later, direct experience) will tell you that only certain editors will be interested. In short, there is a lot of homework to be done identifying the news media related to your area and learning the specifics about them. The more information your database contains, the more valuable the information will be to you.

Before you contact any editor, you need to know where to call, email, or write. Fortunately, there are dozens of published directories of editorial contacts. While you could easily spend thousands of dollars buying or subscribing to them, you do not need to. As mentioned above, your library probably has several subscriptions on hand.

Some of the more popular directories for North American and international contacts include the following news media organizations. There is likely a membership fee (depending on the service level requested) to access the databases of these groups.

Table 3.1. News Media Organizations

Media GroupWeb Address
Bacon's Directorieswww.bacons.com
Canada Newswirewww.newswire.ca
CCN Matthewswww.ccnmatthews.com
Media Mapwww.mediamap.com
PR Newswirewww.prnewswire.com

Another way to find local media contacts and organizations is to look in your local telephone directories. Here are some categories to start you on your way (your local Yellow Pages may list these under different headings):

Once you have created a list of potential editors to contact, find out as much as you can about their publication, coverage areas, and special interests. Become familiar with their publication, their website, or their broadcast. Get to know the beats (coverage areas) of specific reporters.