When I first started in the digital influencer relations practice, here at SMG, I had no need for a contact management system outside the one I had on my mobile. We’ve done some growing since then and the need for managing those relationships has changed. It’s not only managing the growing number of contacts we’ve established but our team growing as well, so the keeping-everything-in-my-head method isn’t really going to cut it for much longer.

When we brainstormed as a team about what we wanted out of a contact management system there were some of the obvious features – the ability to customize, having numerous search functions and the basic ‘name, blog, contact’ fields – but we all agreed on the not-so-obvious fields as well. The information that changes it from a contact to a relationship; the truly rich information about each person we converse with.

We build relationships, not lists.

By cultivating information that goes beyond contact information we are able to build a comprehensive system that will enable us to be more successful with our pitches. It will take a lot of the leg work of searching every time we need to do outreach and it will significantly minimize stupid errors.

So…what kind of rich information is important to us?

Who owns the relationship? – Knowing who owns the relationship can prevent one of the worst outreach tactics – over pitching. This is especially helpful when you work with other agencies for the same client. It also helps you to be more successful. Obviously, a pitch coming from someone they are familiar with is the way to go.

Where else do they exist? – You know that very popular writer on that big important blog? She even has a personal blog. And did you know she’s also very active on Twitter on three different accounts? Oh, and she is a talented photographer; I looked at her photos on her Flickr account. My point? Yes, most bloggers have lives and day jobs outside of that one blog you are pitching. The more you know about a particular person, the more likely you are to find something that interests them.

How do they like being pitched? – This is a very simple courtesy.

Past articles – What have we pitched them on already? What were they responsive to? What did they ignore? Of the articles they wrote, what kind of feedback did it garner with their audience? This kind of information will remind us what we should avoid and what we should focus on.

Of course our system contains more rich information but I thought to highlight a few of the key areas we really focus on. What kind of information do you prefer to have on hand when doing any type of outreach? What would you add? Is there anything you would take away?


  1. Keeping track of contacts is one of those activities that almost everybody could improve on — especially PR people. For every relationship there is a lot of information to keep track of so you can remember what you and the other person have discussed, shared, learned, and agreed on.

    After you determined what information to track, which tool did you decide to use?

  2. zoe

    you are spot on, cliff.

    we ended up going with CRM software that was customized to fight our needs.

    thanks for the visit!


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