The 4 Secrets to Building the Perfect Media List

Building a media list can be a daunting task. But it’s one of the most important steps when preparing to start a public relations campaign. Without the right media targets, it doesn’t matter what information you’re distributing, it won’t get picked up. Having the right media outlets and the right contacts at each outlet takes you 30% of the way to a successful campaign. So, what steps do you take in order to create one?

1. Use a search engine database
There are a lot of database programs out there that can lead you to the right sources. One such database search engine that our firm uses is Cision. Often times Cision is a way to get started, but let me be clear, it is a start, certainly not a finish. By using the database and putting in different search options like contact topic, location, language, etc. a media list is compiled for you. You can then use that list as your base.

2. Do your research
So now you have a media list compiled through a database program. It’s up to you then to look through the list and decide what is the right target, what is the wrong target and what targets are missing. Here’s where the research part comes in. If you’re unfamiliar with a media outlet, Google it. Find out if it makes sense for who your client is and what you’re pitching. If it does, leave it on the list, if it doesn’t take it off! This can be very timely, but it’s an important step. After you’ve gone through this process, you will end up with a very targeted media list consisting of relevant media outlets.

3. Conduct even more research!
But you’re not done yet! Now that you have the right outlets on your list, it’s time to make sure you have the right contacts at each outlet too. Again, this is a tedious process, but one that must be done. If you’re unsure of the media contact research them. Find out if they’re on Twitter, LinkedIn or Facebook to understand their interests. See what articles they’ve last written about. If they sound like they would be interested in what you’re planning to pitch them, leave them on the list. If not, be sure to remove. The last thing you want to do is spam a reporter!

4. Update
So you’ve made a well-researched and thought-out media list. You’re actively pitching and you continue to use this media list time and time again (if your topic remains relevant to the list). But, didn’t you forget something? Yes! You need to update your media list at least once a quarter if not more often. Why? Because just like any other industry, possible more so, media contacts change positions, change beats and change outlets. So be aware – update your lists.

In order to build an exceptional media list, make sure you follow the above steps to ensure it is top-notch for your public relations campaign. You’ll be happy you spent the time putting in the effort and your clients will win because of it!

Lisa Gordon is the Vice President of HJMT Public Relations.
@lisamcgordon