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Building a Media List: to Cision, or Not to Cision?

Ohhhhh, Cision. How I love you, and how I hate you. Like most people in the Public Relations biz, my love/hate relationship with Cision began pretty much on day 1. On one hand, Cision is an awesome and invaluable tool that gives us insight into media markets throughout the country and the world. On the other hand, oftentimes media lists that are pulled using solely Cision result in bounce backs, incorrect phone numbers, editors who don’t exist and inaccurate beats for reporters.

This really isn’t Cision’s fault: technology is to blame. In the past twenty years, publications have had to adapt to the ever-evolving digital world and re-work the way they operate to comply with the demands of a society of consumers who don’t want to wait for the morning’s paper to get their news. For example, I’m a true-blue millennial, and sure, I don’t mind reading the morning newspaper and I still live for the Sunday edition of the New York Times, but I also have my Twitter and Facebook feeds, along with websites like Huffington Post and Business Insider that are constantly updated, to feed me information all day and all night. Let’s be real, for consumers this is pretty great. We are living in a day and age where the entire world is at our fingertips. Any question you have can be answered with a simple Google search.

However, the unfortunate side of the spectrum is technology has hit the media hard, resulting in lay offs and shrunken staffs. Which is why at the end of the day, Cision just cannot be relied on for building a media list. That’s not to say that this tool should be eradicated completely – it serves as the perfect foundation for getting acclimated with a media market you’re not familiar with. Cision is the perfect place to start when trying to find out what papers and TV affiliates cover a city. But pitching a contact solely based on what Cision says is a huge mistake. Most publications these days rely on contributors and freelancers, because having a real brick and mortar staff just isn’t realistic or even necessary. People can write for publications from all over the world, they don’t need to be in the office anymore. The world has changed, and the media has changed with it.

As a result, there’s a good chance that your perfect contact isn’t going to be found on Cision: you have to do some digging. Yes, it takes more time, but actually sifting through an outlet’s website and doing your due diligence not only helps you identify the correct contact, but it makes your pitch that much stronger when you’re familiar with the reporter’s work and the type of stories they report on. Overall, Cision is undoubtedly a valuable tool that serves as the foundation of any good media list, but if you really want to successfully pitch then supplementing Cision with some good-ole research is your best shot.