Tin Shingle's Media Contacts Policy
Tin Shingle curates the names of people who make the news - writers, reporters, on-air experts, producers and assistants - into our Media Contact Database. We have a process for vetting a media contact before we want to add it to our database and then maintain that person's current status in their career. There are a lot of people who work in the media, and jobs change quickly.
Before We Get Started, A Note About Humans
Tin Shingle's Media Contacts Database is edited by humans - our small team of Media Contact Researchers here at Tin Shingle, also known as Super Sleuthers or Knitters of the Internet, depending on who you ask. Right now that team is Kat, Liz, Katie, and Ashley (currently out traveling the world doing volunteer work). Shayne is our lead programmer/developer who maintains the engine under the hood.
Jobs change so quickly in the media. Everyone is fighting to keep theirs. It is not possible to stay on top of all of them with the speed of light or an auto-update when that person in the media clocks out for the last time at their job, and may or may not head to a new job. Therefore, our media contacts are not 100% accurate all of the time. None of industry big dogs are 100% accurate either, because humans are real, and the big databases like Cision, Meltwater and MuckRack are edited by humans also. The thing about humans is...humans don't even update their own LinkedIns or websites all of the time! So it takes some research, cross-referencing, and verifying.
Pictured here are (from left): Liz, Kat, and Katie in Tin Shingle’s office in Beacon, NY.
Tin Shingle's Media Contacts Database is Simple & Easy.
You can see a peek of our Media Contact Database here. PR Professionals who need smart-contacts that are connected to outreach tracking and report building may find Cision to be a better fit. If you want AI connected to when a writer publishes an article, you may want Meltwater.
If you are a business owner, artist or maker and want to dig into names and start pitching, then Tin Shingle's Media Contact Database will be a great fit for you. Use Tin Shingle's PR Planner & Tracker Template to track who you want to pitch and when, and why.
A Note About Buying Lists
You may have heard of those industry-specific lists, where you can buy 2,437 names in Women's Fashion, or 448 names in Medical. We don't work that way. We don't know where those lists came from, when the last time they were updated, or pulled from one of the big-daddy databases like Cision or Meltwater, and if they were cross-referenced checked before you downloaded them.
Tin Shingle is not a list-seller. We enable members to access a live database of people that we update in an ongoing basis. The best part is, however, Tin Shingle trains and empowers you through our classes and community in how to pitch these media people. Even the best in the business use Tin Shingle for fresh ideas and discovering new angles for reasons to reach out to the media about a new reason to feature your brand.
Speaking of Ongoing, When Do You Update Your Media Contacts?
Sometimes we update an entire media outlet at once, and sometimes we update one or five names within that outlet. We are often scampering down rabbit holes and discovering new but really influential media outlets. Each Media Contact is time-stamped with the date of when it was last added or verified.
There is an element of group-updating to our database. If a member pitches and gets a bounce-back, sometimes they will email in with a "that email is zapped!" and we will move that contact to the top of our priority list to update. We won't delete that person, but will neutralize their job title and employer until we can find out more. We will retain their social media and website, as they are most likely still working with people in their field, producing new material in some capacity.
We've Heard This Assumption: "I subscribe to magazines to have their current mastheads. Is this good enough for having a list of media contacts to go by?"
Subscribing to magazines (and reading them) is one of the smartest things you can do when researching which magazine and writer would be the best fit for your pitch when you're trying to get media coverage. However, having the masthead in the print edition is holding old news. Those magazines are put together 3-6 months in advance. An editor or editorial assistant may have left in that time.
We've Heard This Declaration: "Some of the editors in your database don't have active social media accounts."
Well...we are not those humans! We cannot control if writers, editors or producers update their social media accounts. And just because one of those accounts is a dud, doesn’t mean it’s the wrong account for that person. Believe it or not, people who make the media can be shy. Seriously! We know this because we have trained members of the media in Tin Shingle's Private Training Program some top editors in their fields - with MBAs in Journalism - in how to use Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. This isn't something they talk about, and are often closeted about it.
We've Heard This Rational: "All I want is your Media Contacts. I don't need the training. I am a PR Professional."
Well...you may not have listened to a TuneUp yet, because they are packed with fresh ideas and story angles, which is a weapon every PR Professional needs. Maintaining our Media Contacts and making them easy for our members to use takes a considerable amount of resources (money) for us at Tin Shingle, so it is a resource we must make available at a higher level of membership.
How Does Tin Shingle Update Their Media Contacts?
Alright, the moment you've been waiting for.
1. a. If we are adding a new media outlet:
We go to LinkedIn, Twitter, and the website of that publication. We do specialized searches to find the people who work there. In the past, we have used Cision and Meltwater as a place to start with a list of names, and then scrubbed those names (quite a bit would be outdated or under-informed - like the Co-Founder of Refinery29 would have a Job Title of “Content Creator” - doh! But not all the time. Sometimes the info was great. However, we no longer use those databases and rely on Tin Shingle’s database. Sometimes we come across MuckRack or MediaBistro and use them for info gathering.
1. b. If we are updating a current media outlet:
We pull up the current media outlet on Tin Shingle, like Megyn Kelly TODAY. We then check every single person on that list. Sometimes they are still there, but maybe have a different job title (promotion!) or maybe they have left for somewhere new. Sometimes when they leave for somewhere new, it is an entirely new publication, TV show, web show, podcast, etc. Like a producer leaves to be the host of a new health podcast from the Cleveland Clinic. We create a profile for that new podcast, and update that person’s profile. Sometimes we blog about these new discoveries in our “Pitch This” series.
1. c. Sometimes, a media outlet dies (closes/shutters):
When that happens, we do a little prayer, and then create 1 Media Contact in the database for you that lets you know of this sad information. You may not know that a media outlet closed, and you’ll go looking for it, and not see it in our database. Then you’ll email us and be like: “Hey! You don’t have the Oprah Winfrey Show!” and we’ll be like, “Yeah, about that. It’s off the air.” So instead of you seeing nothing, we create one Resource Record that has links to the news of the closure, and possibly new ideas on how else to get featured.
2. We cross-check the names, and ask ourselves several questions.
Here's what we do to check information:
Media Outlet’s Website: We go to the media outlet’s website to see if the person still works there. We look for the masthead on the website. The website’s masthead is more current then the masthead appearing in the latest print issue. The masthead from the print issue is at least 1-3 months old already, since they produce it far in advance.
If they are listed as an author of articles with lists of their articles on the media outlet’s website, we check the latest dates of publications. If very recent - as in this month, it’s a good sign they are still there. But, they may have moved on from a staff position and still write for the publication as a Contributing Writer.
Contributing Writers: If a person is no longer a Staff Writer, they may still write for the publication from time to time. This is called a Contributing Writer. We don’t want to lose this information, so we may edit their Job Title in our Media Contacts Database to that of Contributing Writer, and keep them connected to that media outlet. Further, if we determine that they still write for the publication, but are no longer on staff, then their staff email is no good. We only publish a personal email like a gmail or yahoo only if they list that on their professional website that is public. Otherwise, we leave the email field blank, or put a link to their Contact Us page (if you are a media contact in our database and want your named removed, please contact us here and we will get on it!). We encourage you to pitch them via their professional website. Many writers have such websites nowadays, now that they write for several publications - even if they are still on staff at a magazine or with a TV program.
Twitter: The Twitter bio is an easy one for them to update, so usually this is updated for them. However, not all people in the media are actually on Twitter, and even fewer of them are on Instagram. Plenty of them are! But not all.
LinkedIn: A great source for finding who works where. People tend to update their LinkedIn profiles.
The Writer/Producer/Editor’s Website: The professional websites of media professionals tend to be up to date, and list a resume or recent work. They also list suggestions on how to pitch or get in touch. We take their lead from there.
As for Editorial Calendars:
We hand-research these for magazines as well. We do not gather these for TV or blogs. We reach out to a publication, and are emailed their Editorial Calendar. During this process, we learn several things, and we make a note of that in documentation at Tin Shingle available to members:
The publication stopped their print edition, and went digital.
The publication cut back on the number of issues they put out.
The publication doesn’t put out an Editorial Calendar.
Having a Media Contact is only a fraction of the battle. You need fresh ideas and relationship building techniques. That’s why we include the Training TuneUps in the Media Contact List Level 4 membership. If you don’t need the Media Contacts for but you want to keep the training, consider downgrading to Level 3 to keep the Training TuneUps, or even to Level 1 to stay in Tin Shingle’s Community to connect with others and feel the support.
If you have more questions, please contact us here.