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How to Build a Media List for Optimal Press Coverage

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How to Build a Media List for Optimal Press Coverage

When you’re conducting PR, reaching out to as many sources as you can is typically a poor use of your time and resources. Instead, you should build a curated PR media list, with the details of contacts that you can reach whenever you need coverage. This list should span a wide variety of reporters and outlets so that you can do specific outreach based on the nature of the content you want to be published. The selection of stories that an outlet will cover has been a key factor in news media from the very beginning, but there are now some strategies, tools, and metrics that let outlets decide which stories are worth picking. If you are targeting the wrong outlets with your PR stories, you might be getting very little interest.

According to experts at Inc, a press release is more than just an announcement- it’s a platform for you to get your story out in the open. Press releases are crucial for widening your reach, establishing or expanding your brand, promoting ideas, products, and services, and building critical relationships with your target audience.

1) Remember Getting Organized Is Getting Good

A PR list that returns heavy dividends is one that takes a good deal of time, effort, and organization to curate. If you are, rightfully, dedicating resources towards generating top-notch content but not spending the time to ensure that it gets the visibility it needs or deserves, you are doing yourself a disservice. To know how to organize your list, you must know what purpose it serves. Your media list consists of contact details for bloggers, journalists, reporters, writers, editors, and creators across the content spectrum who would be interested in covering stories related to your business or the domain it operates in.

2) Start by Picking the Right Contacts

You must take the time to think about the channels through which you want your news to spread, and how you would go about approaching each member of your PR list. If you don’t make a case for yourself with a solid pitch stating what value you add to them, they may not consider you to be a good fit. They must be well-known and also relevant to your business area. Only trustworthy sources within the domain will be considered authoritative when investors and customers evaluate your brand.

3) Consider Using the Best Tools to Curate Your Media List

The scale of your organization as well as the kind of outreach you want to get vastly influence the way your PR list will be created and curated. If you are operating at a local or regional level or a significantly small niche, you can maintain a manual list of reputed local sources. But if you are operating at a larger scale and have several dimensions to your media strategy, a more sophisticated approach might be called for.

Ideally, you want your media database to let you filter your contacts in several ways, be it by industry, location, convenience, suitability, and several other key metrics. If your database can be integrated with a mailer, it’s even better, since it will make the outreach process even easier using automation. Once you pick the subjects you want to reach out to, you can write to them or send over a press release without switching programs. This may seem daunting at first but picking a top tool upfront will save you a lot of time later down the line.

4) Examine & Evaluate Your Target Audience

While creating an effective media list for getting you the press, you must do ample research to know everything about your target audience and learn about more effective ways of reaching them. As per, you could begin by conducting effective research to know precisely about things that your audience is fascinated and intrigued by and how they enjoy consuming information including through TV programs, blogs, magazines or newspapers, and websites, etc. For example, if your audience is primarily stay-at-home mothers, you should be considering media releases and media pitches to mummy bloggers and women’s magazines.

5) Determine the Pertinent Media Types

It is surely a wise decision to focus on building a comprehensive persona of your targeted audience. You must focus on finding out details like job title, preferred social networks, demographics, aspirations, lifestyle, and more. Moreover, find out other important details such as are they having a preference for reading newspapers, trade magazines, blogs, forums, etc.

Some pertinent questions to ask regarding your target audience may include the following:

  • Who are they?
  • Where are they based?
  • What are their chief interests?
  • What kind of media are they in the habit of consuming?
  • What publications are they used to reading?

Once you have successfully profiled your precise target audience, you could consider conducting research concerning meaningful publications. When you get accurate information about the kind of content that fascinates them, you could make the journalist list keeping this in mind.

6) Identify Relevant Journalists

Knowing precisely which contacts to incorporate into your list should be your first step forward in the direction of optimizing PR outreach. It is best to refer to a PR pitching guide at this juncture and also check database for media contacts. Identifying relevant journalists certainly is not a complex process but you simply cannot overlook this crucial step. You must rely on having robust stratagem foundations for witnessing tangible outcomes. Browse through some of the considerations listed by us.

  1. Define Your Precise Target Audience

You must define your target audience properly. You need to know the perfect answer to, ‘whom would you wish your story to be enjoyed by? ‘Remember the more niche your response is, certainly the more relevant and useful your precise media list would be. You must create an audience persona. You need to find answers to questions such as what is the age group to which your target audience belongs. Are they predominantly female or male? Are they in the habit of reading a specific magazine? The answers to all these apt questions would not only help you gather a more well-rounded perspective and concrete information regarding what all they are in the habit of reading, but also what they believe. All this critical info could help you in crafting your message.

  1. Define Carefully Your Target Journalist

You must try to find out more about journalists. Learn more about journalists who have been covering the kinds of content you are interested in getting involved in. You could cleverly discover or have easy access to new journalists simply by staying abreast of the latest trends. 

  1. c) Focus on Appraising Previous Coverage

You need to maintain a meticulous record of earlier earned media. You could keep referring back to the previous coverage details including media outlets and journalists that provided the maximum volume of coverage. Are you able to trace a particular pattern? Is there a specific story that got more press attention? Do you think that there are some outlets and journalists that keep covering your stories consistently and frequently? If yes, then consider them as your truly valuable contacts. You must remember to carry on maintaining a robust working relationship with them.

  1. d) Assess Earlier Competitive Coverage 

The strengths and weaknesses of your competitors could become yours; hence, it is a wise move to devote your time and effort in examining your competitor’s previous coverage just the same way as you keep monitoring your own coverage. Keep track of what is happening and consider making a note of different publications that demonstrate a preference for your competitors.  

  1. e) Make Use of Social Media Lists

Wherever possible consider building a media list on various social media platforms. Many journalists have a preference for communication via social media platforms such as Facebook or Twitter instead of being contacted via telephone calls or emails. This could be an effective way to keep track of the content covered by them on social. More importantly, social media could be utilized in identifying future opportunities and better avenues.

7) Remember Refining Your Targeting Pays

You must focus on creating a short and precise PR List. It is more fruitful to maintain relations with a select few relevant journalists instead of having a gigantic database that we hardly ever speak to. You could keep the following criteria in mind while refining your target media list: 

  • Is the journalist in question, is a specialist or generalist?
  • What is supposed to be their editorial line: analytical, humorous, or critical?
  • Do they have expertise in a particular field or they usually address the general public?
  • Would they mind if they are being reached via social networking sites?
  • Do they write reports, blogs, articles, or chronicles?

You may assume that if you pitch a greater number of people, you could have greater opportunities for PR hit landings. This is certainly a misconception. Quality is always better in comparison to Quantity. Remember personalization would go a long way. Simply addressing a journalist using his first name could make all the difference.

8)    Keep Updating Your Media List 

Generating a media list could be time-consuming and so is getting your list updated. Keep in mind that new opportunities keep cropping up every now and then. Moreover, journalists are used to moving around. Consistent and steady auditing of your precise influencer database would be boosting your outreach endeavors. It is of pivotal importance to keep updating your list on a regular basis because your media contacts would sometimes change roles or even switch over a different field of expertise. Keep reading industry news to stay abreast of the latest developments so that you have an idea when media outlets would be ceasing publication, shifting online, or launching. You should keep track of new producers or editors who have been freshly appointed.  


A top-quality media list is integral to success. You should always pay importance to your media list and do not take it for granted. It is a smarter move to avoid generating a database comprising random contacts practically from every industry. It is best to be more organized and methodical in your approach. Making sure that your media list actually works, could save you a lot of time and assist you in generating the all-important outcomes.

Bhanu Garg

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