The media landscape is in constant flux. The value of coverage is questionable, and how news is consumed and shared is as diverse as it is constantly changing. Our mindset about what makes coverage meaningful and how to secure it needs to change too.

If there’s one task us PR pros love to hate, it’s building media lists. So why bother? The days of outdated, static media lists are gone. Don’t get me wrong, a well-researched list is a good – and necessary – starting point. But that’s it: a starting point. It’s up to you to evolve it and make it work. The keyword is research.

Here are three reasons why research is central to modern day media relations.

News now runs on a 24/7 cycle.

It’s moved from fast to lightning speed thanks to technology and social media. Which can make it tempting to quickly blast your organization’s information (or that of your client) to every journalist known to be a “business reporter.” Don’t do it. Nine out of 10 times, you’ll come up empty on meaningful results – if you get any at all. Take time to understand the nuances of the story you’re pitching, then hunt for reporters who regularly cover similar industries and issues, and tailor your pitch to their style and publication. Your odds of at least receiving a response to your email, tweet or call will increase substantially.

You can no longer use a blanket approach and hope to get lucky.

Let’s put this in the context of an online dating profile. Would you want someone to send you the same message already sent 50 other potential dates? Of course not. Journalists feel the same way. Most receive hundreds of emails per day; the majority are template pitches, news release blasts, or just completely not related to anything they might cover. Want to stick out in the sea of poor pitches? Do your research. Make it clear you’re familiar with – or have at least read – previous pieces they’ve written. Explain (quickly) why your story or expert is a perfect match for their beat and readers. Media relations is personal. Make your story work for the journalist, not the other way around.

Media relations is personal. Make your story work for the journalist, not the other way around.Click To Tweet

The media landscape is oversaturated.

Traditional print newspapers and trade magazines, online outlets, blogs, podcasts, social channels. There is an abundance of “media” – and it’s both a challenge and opportunity. Historically, landing a story in The New York Times was a substantial coup, a win that would keep on giving. But while major mainstream coverage still tops many wish lists, it’s our job to provide counsel on the other, lesser known and perhaps less coveted yet more valuable mediums. Research is critical. Knowing your brand’s buyer personas (where do they get their news and in what forms?) coupled with publication demographics and “traffic” analytics are key. Trying to secure a story in The Wall Street Journal if your target audience doesn’t subscribe to the publication is a waste of time, money and resources – yours and everyone else’s. Instead, fish where the fish are. And most importantly, rev the engines of your marketing machine to ensure whatever content you create or coverage you earn reaches your ideal buyers.

Is media a component of your communications plan? Our guide can help make sure your media strategy is not only effective, but most importantly, is balanced with other results-oriented PR and marketing tactics.

Under Threat: The Changing Role of Media Relations in PR [E-Book]

Carly was most recently an associate with Stern Strategy Group.