Top tips for your features list purgatory

February 4, 2008

Hayley has kindly asked for our tips on compiling features lists. Admittedly asking advice under a post headed ‘is there anything worse than compiling forward features lists’ might have given a clue as to how much fun lies ahead of her, but we’ll do our best to oblige…

1. Do them early. Preferably January 1st. If you don’t the PRO/Account exec’s personal ‘axis-of-evil’ [also known as your client/Account Director/Comms Director combination] will only moan [rightly] that they didn’t know about that vital February special feature which would totally have transformed their brand’s prospects.

2. Features Exec and the like can help, but there’s no replacement for actually having the lists themselves from each publication. Especially for when the afore-mentioned axis-of-evil decide to fundamentally shift their priorities, and that trade mag focus on dog-grooming products suddenly becomes highly relevant, rather then the existing list highlighting off-shoring features.

3. Do it on Excel. Yes it’s ugly, but it’s easier to use. If you really want to make a name for yourself use a pivot table. Go on, I dare you. It’s the new route to the top.

4. More is the new black. As in more features. Your protestations that ‘there wasn’t anything relevant’ just won’t wash. You’ll only get told to go back and do it again. So include all those opps of dubious and highly tangential relevance. Everyone will be happier for the superfluous info.

5. When trying to locate the elusive keepers of features list at publications [assuming they’re not on the website], remember that Editorial Assistant’s are your best friends. They occupy a distinctly unglamorous role, and PR’s bothering them reminds them of their aspirations to eb a journalist. Hence, shock horror, they will be the closest thing to a journalist you ever meet who will welcome your tedious advance. A bit like an unattractive girl at a school disco, they’re grateful for the attention, even if it is from the creepy guy in the corner.

And Finally, remember it’s what you do with the list which then counts. Merely assembling it is the least of your challenges. getting some coverage out of it? that’s a whole other story…

Actually, that’s not the final word. We couldn’t let this post finish without re-asserting our deeply held belief that features lists are like self-flagellation; a misery which must be endured in search of a higher glory; which in PR terms must surely be the day when you’ll be supervising someone else’s features list assembly.

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