A good media list helps you bring your company news to the attention of journalists and get publicity. After all, if you are sending out a press release or PR pitch, you want to target the right audience. Below, we show you how to create a media list — one targeting the right people — in 5 easy steps.
What is a Media List?
A media list consists of media contacts from news outlets, magazines and online publications — and specifically ones that attract your potential customers. It contains names, email addresses and other information. Some call it a press list or media contact list.
Why do you need a list? Suppose you are issuing an announcement of a new product, grand opening or other news. With a list you know where to send your news. Most people do individual outreach using their list, and also send releases out over the wire using press release distribution sites.
Buy or Create Your Own Media List?
PR pros may need lengthy lists having hundreds or thousands of names and email addresses. It’s possible to purchase media lists — something those in large enterprises might want to consider — using one of the PR tools below.
However, for local small businesses, media lists are often short, sometimes just a dozen contacts. For a small list it is better to create your own so you can target it better. Quality is more important than quantity.
5 Steps to Create a Media List
Here are five simple steps to create a media list. Start by identifying the market you hope to reach with your news. Then identify the media contacts. Next, set up a spreadsheet. Then gather all contact details and other information. Add notes and update your list from time to time. Let’s dig into the details:
1. Define Your Target Audience
The first step to creating a media contacts list is to define the type of people you want to reach with your company news. These will include potential buyers of your products or services, or those who influence purchasing decisions.
For example, suppose you operate a local family restaurant and you have an amazing new menu to publicize. Your target audience might be local residents within a 25-mile radius who like to dine out and have disposable income.
For example number two, let’s say your business sells financial software. Your ideal customer is a finance manager or someone in an accounting firm. Your target market will be national in scope, consisting of business people with a need for finance software.
Do you see how different each target is? They consume different types of media so your outreach plan must be tailored.
Pro tip: if you’ve previously set up buyer personas describing location, demographic profile, interests and the types of media they consume — those personas will be helpful here.
2. Identify Journalists and Media Outlets
Step 2 is where you identify the media outlets likely to reach your targets. You also need to identify the members of the media (journalists, editors) to add.
- Identify the media outlet. Put yourself in your buyer’s shoes and find media publications and news outlets that your target buyer typically frequents. Do the outlets cover content similar to your news? Have they given coverage to competitors? How big is their readership? Pick relevant choices so you don’t waste your time.
- Find the right person in the media outlet. Search for a journalist who covers your beat. What kind of content do they cover? Do they write stories that would get your target’s attention?
Let’s look at our two examples again to illustrate what to look for.
Example 1 – a local restaurant: Wouldn’t it be great to get a story in the food or lifestyle sections of local newspapers? Local news sites such as Patch or Coal Region Canary are another type of outlet to target. Finally, don’t forget local food blogs, e.g. Philly Food Adventures. For a local business, location is super important.
Example 2 – a finance software firm: Look for business magazine sites that accountants read. Search for trade publications serving the accounting industry or websites that review software tools. Industry sector or niche is more important than the location of the media outlet in this example.
Pro Tip: Don’t be afraid to add outlets to your media contacts list. Local media and trade pubs are always in need of a story and willing to review PR pitches and press releases.
3. Decide on a List Format
For this step, the simplest way to set up a contact list is to create a spreadsheet or Word doc with columns. Include the name of each contact and how to reach them.
Make sure to include more than names and contact information. How much detail you need depends on your role. PR professionals who represent many clients will want more detail, covering information such as industry and location. But the marketing manager in a small company might not, for example, need to specify location because all its media contacts would be local.
Add notes about the types of press releases or media pitches that might be most successful with each reporter.
Save time by starting with a template (see our free version below).
4. Begin Adding Contact Information
The next step is to find and enter information for the media contacts. Search for bylines to identify writers as you read publications in your industry. When you see a writer’s name on articles you like, add it. You may find some on Twitter, which attracts a lot of media people. Some media representatives may contact you to get on your list.
Keep it targeted. Remember, a high-quality list of a handful of the right people is better for public relations than thousands of media contacts who can’t get you in front of your target audience.
You will be emailing your contacts individually, so all should be worth your time, not just filling up rows on a spreadsheet. After a few days take a second pass and remove any media contacts if you don’t think they can help you reach your goals.
5. Update Your Media List Regularly
The final step is to update your list regularly so it will be ready the next time you need it. Think of your media list as a work in progress.
Add new media contacts, of course. Periodically cleanse your list. Remove outdated media contacts such as when reporters or editors move on.
Note when you had a great experience from a story. This helps you focus on media list contacts who are more receptive to your pitches.
What Information Goes on a Media List?
The information on a media list should include contact details necessary to reach out to reporters, editors and bloggers with fields for:
- Name of news outlet, media publication or blog site
- Website URL
- Journalist name
- Job title
- Email address
- Phone number (optional)
- Subjects covered or “beats”
Keep your list lean. The temptation is to collect too much information, needlessly inflating your workload. For example, are the social profiles of your media contacts really necessary to send a story idea or press release? Also, you will likely pitch a story via email so a phone number is optional, at best.
Tools, Templates And Examples
Templates and software tools make the public relations process easier and more efficient. You could search the web for media list examples but it would be easier to start with our free template.
Free Media List Template
Use this free list template to enter your own contact details and manage your public relations operations more effectively.
It is a Google Doc (and can be downloaded to Excel). You can add columns or customize them to suit your needs when creating a contact list.
Media List Building Tools
These software tools help you identify media contact information and build your media list.
Prowly offers PR and media relations software to help you compile media contacts. Prowly helps build your media list and create media pitches. Prowly is best if you do a lot of PR and need to develop extensive media lists. A basic plan starts at $179 per month.
Muck Rack makes public relations software providing a database of journalists. There are also tools to track news about your brand. You can also use Muck Rack to create reports about your success. Muck Rack is a paid service with pricing available upon request.
PressRush provides a journalist database you can mine for contact information and a tool to create media lists. Plans start at $49 per month. It is cheaper than Prowly but also a bit different.
Anewstip is a simple but pricy tool to locate press representatives and media outlets based on what they write or Tweet. The tool draws from more than 200 million articles, 1 billion Tweets and 1 million media contacts. A free option offers no real contact information or ability to pitch. A standard plan starts at $200 a month.
Hunter.io is a simple tool giving access to email addresses — helpful for locating contact information to put in your media lists. It has free and paid options beginning at $49 per month.
Anymail Finder offers a similar email search function to Hunter.io at a similar price — $49 per month to start. However, the tool boasts that you only pay for “verified” emails.
Voila Norbert is an email address search tool that offers the first 50 searches for free so you can try before you buy. After this, fees begin at $49 per month.
LinkedIn, the social networking platform, offers an easy way to find media contacts and outlets.
Twitter is another social media channel that has long been a favorite of media people. Why not use Twitter as a method of collecting a contact list of journalists as well?
Google is a no-brainer. Use Google search tools to locate media contacts. Media sites feature staff pages with contact information. Find the person’s name. Then search for the name along with the word “email” to find their address.
SimilarWeb is a competitive intelligence platform that analyzes website traffic. SimilarWeb helps you locate websites ranking for the right keyword and their traffic levels, so you know where to send your media pitch.
How Do You Develop Media Contacts?
Great PR involves more than a spreadsheet, wide distribution of a press release, or a clever story pitch. Good media relations are essential.
Make an investment in a relationship with key media contacts. Here are tips for making the most of media contacts:
- Know your people. Know the main story interests of every contact on your media list. Nothing sours a media relationship faster than receiving an irrelevant media pitch where the PR person hasn’t even read your content.
- Include a personal touch. Personalize communications with names. Pick a conversation starter with every contact. Ask about family or vacations if they’ve come up in conversation before. Nobody in the media wants to feel like they are only one of a hundred people on a mailing list.
- Use CRM. Customer relationship management software does more than save time. It can help you nurture relationships. The right tools help you manage media relations by keeping track of personal details, your last conversation with people, etc. for key contacts on your media lists.
Should I Include Social Influencers on a Media List?
Include bloggers, influencers and podcasters in your PR strategy. One influencer with an Instagram following can spark wide discussions in your market. Some people keep a separate social network influencer list, but it’s perfectly fine to add them as media contacts in order to track them.
You don’t necessarily need to send a press release to these individuals. Engaging contacts in conversation can be more effective. Bloggers may be more receptive than reporters to story ideas, but research the blogger first to determine how they respond to story pitches for their blogs.
Do I Really Need a List of Media Contacts (can I Use HARO Instead)?
Platforms like HARO do not take the place of having your own contact list for PR. A reporter writing a story uses HARO, or an alternative we like better called Qwoted, to seek out expert sources on topics. When you subscribe as a potential source you get notified of media requests, but you have to watch your inbox and respond fast.
As useful as such PR tools are, they are limited. They put media people in control of the topics the articles are about. The beauty of your own press list is that instead of waiting for media people to contact you, you are in control. You are the one to contact press people and shape the PR about your brand.
In conclusion, a contact list is worth its weight in gold. A list accelerates the story pitching process. When you have all contact details at hand, you are always ready for PR outreach.