Your PR email list is the lifeblood of your media relations. How are you taking care of it?
As a PR pro, you probably think of your contact list as your most precious asset—and rightly so. It's the tool you use to connect with writers and secure media coverage for your clients.
But with the media landscape morphing daily, maintaining your PR email list is challenging.
Journalists change beats or leave a publication altogether. Bloggers abandon their online projects and stop checking email for pitches. If you represent clients globally, things get even more complicated: How are you supposed to keep up with the constant changes for hundreds of publications?
Using a PR outreach and monitoring platform isn't a guaranteed solution. In fact, after signing up for one myself, I was astonished to see how many of my pitches bounced back.
Lesson learned: you can't rely on someone else to source genuine media contacts for you. Keeping a healthy PR email list is solely our responsibility.
Why Does the Health of Your PR Email List Matter?
The obvious answer is that reaching out to a nonexistent contact won't get you anywhere. Your pitch will bounce—but that's not all. As a PR manager at ZeroBounce, I've come to learn that bounces aren't just missed opportunities. When they add up—and exceed 2% (two bounces for 100 emails)—they start to affect your sender score.
Your sender score allows Internet service providers (ISPs) to determine whether you're a legitimate sender and not a spammer. A low score means your pitches will start going to spam. Ignore that issue long enough, and your emails may not even land in the junk folder; they simply won't get delivered.
Five Ways to Keep Your PR Email List Healthy
So, how can you be sure that your PR email list is always fresh and that your pitches land in the inbox?
Take the following five steps.
1. Let an email validator do the heavy lifting
Start with this step if you haven't checked your PR list in more than six months.
Almost 23% of email lists degrade yearly, on average, so chances are a good number of your media contacts have churned. Instead of risking bounces, let a reliable tool detect invalid email addresses so you can remove them from your database.
Email validators are fast, so you'll be done with the task within an hour, at most, depending on how many contacts you have. What's more, you can connect your email validator to your email provider and clean your email list even faster.
2. Check every new email address
Now that you've pruned outdated contacts, try to be more mindful of how you add to your email list.
It's easy to get into a hoarder mentality: As PR pros, we want to expand our reach and connect with more writers. But before you add a bunch of new contacts to your database, check that they're valid.
Popular email verifiers allow you to do that for free. Just copy and paste the address into the email checker, and you'll get your result within seconds.
Knowing the damage that email bounces cause to my sender score, I never add a new address to my PR list without checking it first.
3. Beware of writers who never engage with your emails
Journalists—especially those working at prestigious publications—get hundreds of pitches every day. So, when you email a writer at The New York Times and don't hear back, you're probably not surprised.
Not receiving a response shouldn't deter you from following up or pitching that writer again. But if you've made several attempts and none of those emails got opened, that affects your sender score, too.
ISPs look at how recipients react to your emails to gauge how relevant your content is. If people never open your emails, why should you be in the inbox?
Lack of engagement could also signify that an email has been abandoned and therefore might begin to bounce.
4. Update your email list promptly
Have writers in your list just announced on social media that they've moved to another publication? After you congratulate them, update their contact right away.
Many writers will also share a new email address for pitches, so making the change will take only seconds. But just in case they made a typo, remember to run their new address through your email checking tool.
In addition, keep an eye on this type of updates from PR newsletters you subscribe to. Many include personnel changes in the media. Don't dismiss them—they're also a great source of contacts you could reach out to.
5. Know that the best PR database is the one you build yourself
Have you ever been tempted to buy a PR email list? I have, but I've never done it.
Though a ready-made list of contacts can save you time and give you new opportunities, it's hard to trust that it's valid and legitimate. So, if you ever end up purchasing one, double-check it before you reach out with a pitch.
Another route you could take is to keep building your own database. Although your list may grow more slowly, you know that every contact you add is highly relevant in the industries you cover.
Take the time to know every writer and understand their beat so you can send helpful pitches. It's the one thing you must nail to get media coverage.
More Resources on Media Coverage and Maintaining a Healthy List
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