Siddhartha Mukherjee: Junk the Media List for Effective PR

10 Sep,2020

By Siddhartha Mukherjee


The Indian PR and Corporate Communications industry is very powerful and impressive. The kind of work it does, the magnitude of unique market challenges it handles to build, sustain and insulate a brand is way ahead of most markets globally. Its talent, leadership, domain knowledge, dedication, commitment, etc. are ideal benchmark case studies. However, there is a secret sauce that will help this very industry in the last mile – right balance and application of ERPs – Efforts, Resources and Processes.


Let me give you a simple example.


The term Media List or Beat Journalist Database is a very common term that buzzes in a PR professional’s world every time a media release is to be sent out. The fixation with “media list” is so high that majority of discussions in industry Whatsapp Groups also hovers around this topic.


Creating a client’s news coverage based on a media list approach is flawed and smacks of Efforts, Resources and Processes. What this industry needs is a Publication Anatomy based approach.


Today, each newspaper offers various editorial formats from the front to the last page. Q&A, news briefs, infographics, columns, industry stories, profiling, authored articles, letters to the editor, etc. Not just that, these opportunities are spread across each of the seven days of the week – Sunday through Saturday.


The ERP that PR Agencies need to build into their system is that of Publication Anatomy and not that of  a media list. Clients need to make the PR Agencies think like this and PR Agencies need to build this intelligence and approach within their ecosystem.


Media list is archaic. Public Anatomy is new age! It is a simple, every elementary ERP parameter that will prepare us for the future. I have seen some of the costliest and largest of PR Agencies which smack of this basic thinking process and hygiene!


If we want PR to start delivering, it has to pass through the template of media planning. Understanding publication anatomy and implementing that to generate client’s coverage is a very basic and elementary subset of it.


Media list approach existed 20 years back. Surprisingly, it exists even now! While our Industry’s lifestyle and aspirations have undergone a sea change, the ERPs or Efforts, Resources and Processes are still archaic. Despite PR Agencies recruiting a large team of journalists, the orientation and knowledge of publication anatomy and its importance is not getting passed on to the client servicing teams!


Understanding Publication Anatomy will create some of the following benefits:

1. One press release news will undergo a multiplier effect per edition.

2. The news will get converted into views and get treated in different ways across pages for better brand build up

3. Media relations will be realistic and stronger as the PR agency professional will have to interact with journalists and editors across various pages.

4. Story or Narrative creating capability increases. The PR Agency will have to contextualise or build the narrative for each news as per the individual page requirements


From a PR for PR perspective, to actually bring about on-ground changes, the PR industry will have to think of disrupting its archaic ERPs and replace them with new ones. Taking small baby steps like junking the “media list approach” and adopting publication anatomy is what is the need of the hour.


Siddhartha Mukherjee is a senior marketing services research professional. He was until last year Business Head at Eikona and is currently Founder of Brand Balance ( This column will appear every other Thursday.



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