Any PR professional will tell you that a MAJOR part of his/her PR toolkit is their media lists. This is essentially the “bread and butter” of any PR team and is not something to be shared with just anyone.

If compromised, it would be like losing all of your phone contacts when you purchase a new phone or it dies, AKA the worst feeling ever.

One way to keep track of your contacts

At our integrated marketing agency, our PR team is comprised of a strong group of individuals all with varying backgrounds and levels of experience. As such, we each have developed relationships with media contacts over the years and we oftentimes help one another out when it comes to pitching said contact.

Plus, for those that are new to the PR life, media list building is like a rite of passage and something that will undoubtedly help that individual learn the specific industry they are building a list for.

For any new or seasoned PR professional, here are some great tips for building rock star media lists:

1. Identify your target audience. Before building any list, you should first think about the news that you are sharing and who would be most interested in it. For example, if you are looking to schedule interviews with a client that develops DJ equipment, media that typically cover this space such as DJ trade publications and music publications should definitely be on your list. Once you have identified your target audience, you can now move on to building the list.

2. Employ your research skills. Almost every agency relies on a database service comprised of media outlets, contacts and opportunities. Two of the top databases that I have used are Cision and Vocus. Although a paid service, these databases can help any PR team in a major way. However, nothing is foolproof and it is extremely important that you are willing to look beyond these databases and also do your own research using a search engine of your choosing. In addition to utilizing these services, I also like to do manual searches in Google to see if I am missing any outlets that may be relevant.

3. Tailor, Tailor, Tailor. While building your media list, you will often find contact information for numerous editors and reporters at each publication. You clearly cannot reach out to every single one and a BIG no-no in the PR industry is double pitching (pitching more than one reporter at the same publication at the same time). So, how do you determine who is correct? READ WHAT THEY WRITE. Some publication websites provide mini bios for each reporter with his/her focus area. Others do not, so you will need to read some of their recent stories to determine what would interest them. If it doesn’t fit what you are pitching, choose another contact.

4. Keep it Organized. Once you have built your media list and included all of the pertinent information, I find it helpful to keep notes on all of my interactions with each reporter. This helps for future outreach, but also in building a relationship. One reporter may prefer to only be contacted via phone so I would note that and correspond with them this way going forward. Including notes like this for yourself will definitely help in the long run. I also like to consistently update my lists with changed contact information.

Yes, this does sound like a time consuming process and building any good media list will be developed from a lot of work. However, the work will pay off when you reach out to the right reporter and he/she covers your client.

Happy media list building! Do you have any advice when it comes to building media lists? We’d love to hear it in the comments section.

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