Three Steps to Building a Successful Media List

A successful pitch relies on two important components: great writing and a strong media list. Oftentimes, we put the focus on the written pitch itself when in reality a solid media list is equally essential.

Building a media list building should be time-consuming, strategic and targeted. As PR professionals, it can be easy to get into the habit of focusing on the same reporters in the same verticals for our clients. After all, we get busy and we’re under pressure to secure opportunities left and right.

A big part of my job is helping my account leads to be strategic – and that means spending a lot of quality time building media lists. Here’s what I’ve learned:

1. Take Your Time

If you have a master media list, start there. As you’re going through contacts, make sure to update the list with new names or contact info. Reporters might move to a new publication and new journalists enter the game all the time — an outdated master media list can be your worst (most time consuming) enemy.

Once you’ve selected the best contacts for your pitch, it’s good to do a quick Google search or check your media software to scope out new relevant contacts.

Search for key terms from your pitch, notice the dates relevant articles published and the date of your last outreach. It’s generally best practice not to exhaust a reporter with a different pitch every week.

2. Add Context

I always write notes for each reporter in my media lists.  This helps keep me organized, particularly after combing through many contacts. Good notes could detail the latest relevant articles, why the reporter is a good contact, or why they might care about your pitch.

In the time it takes to build the list, you’ll go through dozens of reporters and publications — it can be easy to get them mixed up or forget why you picked them in the first place. A detailed and accurate notes section can help you be successful by referring you back to relevant articles or important information. Ultimately, this will help you save time and can be invaluable to other team members using the same list.

3. Be Targeted

This is one of the most important parts of building an effective list. Whether you’re building out a master media list or a single list for one pitch, target the relevant reporters and publications. It doesn’t help to have reporters on your list that don’t cover the topic you’re pitching.

Stay up to date with certain beats (and reporters) by setting up Google alerts for key terms. Don’t just add the first person that you see online; be thoughtful. Reporters would rather see that you know what they’re covering than receive a random pitch — that’s just as bad as spam mail.

Media list building won’t be the easiest part of your pitch, and it should be created as thoughtfully as the pitch, itself. Successful PR relies on both parts — a solid pitch and a good media list — for the best results!

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