Don't Build Lists; Build Relationships
The public relations business is dependent on lists. There are lists of media contacts. There are lists for client prospects. There are lists for client activities. There are lists for marketing activities.
I'm convinced that there are lists for lists.
At the end of the day, however, if you look at what the lists are for, they are meant to help you keep tabs on relationships to keep or win new business; secure coverage that you're clients are happy with; and, move the needle.
The one thing common with most of the lists are relationships.
It takes good relationships with media influencers to get coverage — traditional media coverage or blog coverage. It takes relationships to win new business as trust is typically the final hurdle. And, of course, it takes open and honest relationships to keep client programs moving (ultimately, keeping them happy).
If you look at the calendar of someone who works in the agency business, you'll see Swiss cheese. There are meetings to have meetings where you plan to plan.
As an industry, we need to move away from lists and redundant meetings and shake hands. We need to concentrate on broader, yet deeper relationships that are built on trust. Yes, things won't be all roses and chocolate at times, but if you listen to any PR professional who tells a story about winning new business or a great media hit, it'll often start with, "Well, I know this blogger who writes for ABCsite.com" or "My brother-in-law works for this company that sells widgets and they are looking for an agency."
So, let's stop planning to plan. Get out there. Meet people. Swap business cards. "Bump" contact info via your iPhone. You won't be sorry. Relationships humanize business, but more importantly, move the needle.