Communications Training: Developing a Personal Distribution List and Other Tips for Doing Your Own PR

Posted by Lauren Hertel on Thursday, June 21 2012


Lauren Hertel

Many of you are probably working in organizations without public relations departments or staff.  Even for those of you lucky enough to have press offices helping get the word out about your work, they may not be targeting all of the best places or doing so in a way that will help your career.  The answer?  Develop your own personal distribution list, or press list, and feed it regularly with thoughtfully selected news and carefully crafted messages.

The following tips are adapted for Switzer Fellows from a recent article, "How to Manage Your Own PR."

  1. Start small. Pitch your news to smaller publications at first, both to build your skills in pitching the media and to get some clips under your belt that you can show to larger publications.
  2. Create a press list. Reporters hate getting pitches that are off-topic for their beats, so take some time to find out who covers your field and make a quick introductory phone call to find out how they prefer to receive pitches.  And make sure to include the Switzer Foundation, since we post Fellow news regularly enough that your profile on our site appears high on Google search results for your name.
  3. Follow reporters. Follow the reporters who cover your work on Twitter or LinkedIn, and be sure to set up Google Alerts for their names so you see every new article they publish.  Working with the media means being a helpful source all of the time, even if it's just to provide a name or fact for a story.
  4. Be current. Reporters are looking for stories that are news, as in NEW!  You'll be a better source if you pitch reporters when something important is happening right now.
  5. Don't forget bloggers. Blogs have become enormously important tools for reporters looking for stories, so make sure you include online media on your distribution list.  
  6. Get on YouTube. Fellow Eric Jay Dolin recently published a video trailer for his newest book on YouTube.  This is a smart way to get noticed by reporters, who are inundated with faxed and emailed press releases every day.
  7. Keep your cool. When someone writes an article about you, send a thank you note.  If you feel some of the information is incorrect, consider your options before you contact the reporter with an angry email.  If in doubt, feel free to contact us-- we're happy to help you figure out how to get better at communications, and that includes the hard situations, too.
  8. Show off your clips. Success begets success in the media world, so make sure you include links to previous stories about your work when you send information to a reporter.

Want to learn more about messaging and working with the media?  Watch our webinar with highlights from the training our partner organization, COMPASS, runs for us at every fall retreat.

Add comment

Log in to post comments

A vibrant community of environmental leaders