Building a media list is a crucial step in any successful media outreach campaign. For this reason, building media lists is one of the most important public relations jobs. When done right, it can be an effective way to establish media relations with targeted journalists and influencers.
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What is a media list?
The whole point of a media list is to have a database of media professionals – including journalists, bloggers, writers, editors and influencers – who are perfectly matched to your niche and the topics that you are writing about. It normally includes the name of each individual as well as their contact information.
Unfortunately, some brands see building media lists as a waste of time and a way to spam every media outlet to get responses from anyone. If you don’t use your media list the right way, this can actually be the case. In order for your media list to be effective, you should be able to follow it up by building positive long-term relationships with your media contacts.
Building the Perfect Media List
Step 1: Finding your audience
It is important to figure out every aspect of your audience; what they read, what they listen to, what they watch, the brands they interact with on social media, etc. With this information, you will get a better understanding of the type of media outlets to target. From there, you can ensure coverage by sending your press release email to the appropriate audience.
Taking time to do some research before you create your media is important. This process helps you to create a list that is more thorough. A good list will help you choose the best media personalities to help you reach the following audiences:
- Your customers – the people who are going to buy your product or service
- The stakeholders in your company – the people who require evidence that your PR is working
- Industry experts – the people in your industry who you want to notice your company
- Regulators – the people who have a direct influence on your industry
To organize your research, it’s useful to create a spreadsheet. Once you have made a list of all the audiences you’re interested in, you can write a list of keywords associated with your brand. All you need to do is paste these keywords into a search engine and find media outlets that cover the topics which you’ve identified.
Step 2: Creating the list
A good media list needs to be clear, concise, and organized. Here are some things that you should include in your list:
1) Name of the publication/blog/website
You should identify the exact name of the media outlet and add it to your media list. Having a record of relevant publications that cover stories in your niche will help if the journalist you’re interested in moves to a different outlet.
2) Publication website address
This shortcut will come in handy if you need to navigate to media outlets quickly.
3) The reporter/blogger/journalist/broadcaster’s personal email address
Do not send press releases or email pitches to generic company email addresses. Since so many emails pass through these email addresses every day, your email might go unnoticed.
You need to see if you can find the email addresses of the specific person who you want to write about your product/service. If you send your email to a personal email address, then it will stand a higher chance of being opened. In addition, you will know who you’re talking to.
4) Job title
You should also keep note of the position that the contact holds in the company that they work for because it might become relevant for your media pitch. Knowing each media contact’s position will help you to decide if they are a good fit for a particular story.
5) Social media details
If they are on social media, you should interact with them there. This way, you can start building a personal relationship with them. Many journalists are active on Twitter, so it’s a good idea to find their handles and start talking to them.
Make note of how regularly the publication you want to send your pitch to goes out. Knowing a media outlet’s publishing schedule and lead time can determine the best time to send your stories out.
7) Story ideas
This is a perfect moment to match the stories you intend to send out with the right people. If you have a collection of different angles and stories that you want to send out, you can add them to this column so that you can link them to the appropriate reporters and broadcasters. If you do this properly, then you can avoid sending your press releases to the wrong people.
Keep track of important information that could be useful in the future, however silly or insignificant it might seem. When it comes to the media outlets, you can make a list of the stories that they have written recently, and specific topics they write features on. When it comes to the journalists, you can make notes about conversations on social media that you have had with them, their hobbies or even their pet’s name. All this information will help you tailor your pitches to appeal to each person on your list in the future.
Step 3: Research relevant journalists
As we said before, you can start your search for relevant journalists by searching for keywords associated with your brand. When you are going through the articles which pop up, make sure to double-check if there is an actual person that you can contact because sometimes outlets do not share the author’s name.
Don’t get discouraged if you can’t find the author’s name right away. Just keep doing some research on the platform and you might be able to find them or find another contributor who you can contact. It is important not to prioritize coverage on top-tier publications. Try and establish relationships with smaller media outlets as well, because they can help you to reach very specific niche audiences.
Step 4: Make your list of target journalists
You should try and keep your PR list simple. Ultimately, it is more effective to have a handful of relevant journalists who you have a good relationship with than it is to build a long list of journalists who you rarely speak to.
The questions that you should ask yourself before adding a journalist to your list are:
- Do they have experience in your industry?
- What is their editorial style?
- Do you have their contact details? Is there more than one platform where you can reach them?
- What kind of publications have they written for?
From there, you can craft messages that will capture their attention. Media professionals are constantly bombarded by messages. In order to stand out, you should make sure your message is both relevant and creative.
Step 5: Keep your list updated
Creating a media list can take time and effort. It’s not enough to create the list and leave it tucked away until the next time you use it. If you want your list to remain effective, then you must keep it current and updated. New media opportunities can present themselves whenever possible and journalists can move around, so you need to stay alert and update any information that could possibly change. This will ensure that your media list is still relevant the next time you need to do media outreach.
Step 6: Watch your market and competitors
Regardless of what industry you are in, some media outlet somewhere must have written something about it before. That means that they definitely have the experience to write about your company and your industry. However, when you pitch to those media outlets, make sure that you stand out from your competitors. If your competitors have pitched similar products/services in the past, these media outlets won’t want to write about the same thing again.
How do you use media list to get press?
You may have a large list of relevant names and contact details, but you still need to make an effort to connect with the people on your list on a personal level. You need to remember that simply having someone’s email address doesn’t mean you’re best friends.
Make an effort to connect with a media contact before sending them a press release or story pitch. Make sure that they already know you and your business. In addition, make sure you’re talking to someone who would be interested in collaborating with you to share your story with their readers.
In order to build a relationship with a media contact, all you need to do is initiate a conversation about their work. It is important to start a conversation with relevant contacts on your media list weeks before the launch date of your product or service. Continue having the conversation until you have built a solid relationship so that when you need media coverage, you can approach them with a preexisting relationship and not as a complete stranger. It can take time to build a good relationship, but once it is done, the payoff is definitely worth it.
How do you start a conversation?
It might be hard to figure out how to start a professional conversation. It can be helpful to start by reading previous articles from the media contact you’re talking to.
Some things to look for:
- Grammatical errors our outdated facts which you can point out to help them improve their article
- Information that can be added
- Possible articles that could be strengthened by follow-up stories
When doing this initial outreach, don’t limit yourself to journalists or bloggers. You can even try to get coverage from investors, social media influencers, and even founders of other companies. To find the appropriate media contacts, you need to define the goal of your product or service and then define your target audience. Once you figure this out, you are all set.
Creating a media list is easy; it is the follow-through that can be complicated. You need to make a solid first impression so that you can get continuous coverage. The more effort you put into creating a media list and initiating an engaging conversation, the better the outcome of your media outreach will be.
Media lists are a way to keep relevant media contacts organized and up-to-date so that you know what you are sending, who you are sending it to, and when. It is a way of documenting key media contacts who might be interested in stories about your business or area of expertise. Do not limit yourself to traditional media outlets. Keep an open mind and don’t give up too quickly if you don’t catch the big fish. Keep at it and it will all be worth it in the long run.