How To Earn More Publicity With A Targeted Media List

How To Earn More Publicity With A Targeted Media List

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Senior Director of PR & Operations at ChicExecs PR & Retail Strategy Firm.

Do you want to earn more PR and press coverage? Writing a compelling pitch or press release is a good start, but if you really want journalists to pick up your story, you need to pitch the right person.

But it’s not always clear which outlet is best for your audience or if a journalist will even pick up your story.

Instead of blindly sending dozens of pitches that go nowhere, you should use your press resources more strategically. The more relevant a pitch is, the better your chances of scoring a feature are, anyway. That’s why every brand needs a media list.

A media list helps you make the most of your pitches by ensuring you’re reaching the right publications and journalists. Think of your media list as a shortlist of journalists you contact whenever you have a relevant pitch.

If you’re trying to earn more press for your brand, I believe a media list is a must. Learn why every business (including yours) should have a media list and follow the three steps below to build a targeted media list of your own.

Why Do I Need A Media List?

A media list is also called a press list or a media contact list. It’s a document or database that you use to track your media contacts.

But if you’re getting by without a media list right now, you might wonder why you need one in the first place. 

Unfortunately, it’s difficult to scale up your PR efforts without a clean media list. You should have a formal list that documents your publications, contacts and all touchpoints so you can reach out to multiple journalists at once. 

When you take the time to create a media list, you can enjoy benefits like:

• Pitching the right people: Stop wasting your pitches on journalists who will never cover your story. A media list helps you find the right contacts over time to ensure more of your stories get the coverage they deserve.

• Building long-term media relationships: You should follow up with media professionals regularly to increase your chances of earning a news story. A media list makes regular check-ins much easier.

• Earning more publicity: If a journalist never responds to your pitches, you can remove them from your media list. Over time, you’ll build a cleaner list that only includes interested journalists who want to cover your stories.

You can purchase a ready-made media list, but I’ve found that it’s best to build your own. This gives you more control over who’s on your list and ensures data quality.

Ready to get down to business? Follow these three steps to create a targeted media contact list that leads to more PR. 

Step One: Create Your List

First things first: Create the infrastructure for your media list. If you have a small marketing or PR department, this might be a shared Excel file or a Google Sheet. This is fine when you’re just starting out, but a customer relationship management (CRM) platform is usually the best option. 

You can use a CRM to house all information on your journalist contacts, as well as every touchpoint you have with them. This tool will let you score contacts and remove unresponsive contacts, which is the best way to keep your list fresh.

Once you choose how to format your media list, you’ll need to add several data points, including: 

• Name.

• Publication URL.

• Official job title.

• Email.

• Phone number.

• Social handles.

• Notes.

Step Two: Know Your Buyer Persona

Before you start adding journalists to your media contact list, you need to know which outlets to pitch. To figure that out, you should start with your target audience. 

Who are the people who will take action after hearing your story? These should be the people with demographics, hobbies, location and interests that are aligned with your brand. 

Once you know your buyer persona, you should figure out where they spend their time. What content do they consume? When? On what platforms? 

When you know how your buyers like to consume content, you can take a more tailored approach by pitching journalists at the most relevant media outlets.

Step Three: Pick The Right Contacts

Now that you know your audience and the relevant outlets to target, it’s time to find the right contacts at those outlets.

But who’s the right blogger, writer, journalist or influencer for your brand?

Sometimes you can find the right journalist on a publication’s website, but that doesn’t always work out. You can try finding journalists and their contact information via:

• Previous press coverage.

• Competitors’ press coverage.

• Help a Reporter Out (HARO).

• A local Google search (“fashion bloggers in San Francisco”).

• Social media sites like Instagram or Twitter.

Once you compile your list of journalists, it’s time to pitch. Remember to keep your pitches relevant. You only want to send pitches if they align with the journalist’s beat. 

The Bottom Line

A media list is an easy way to improve your PR efforts over time. But like any list, you need to keep updating it over time to see results. Make sure you’re reaching the right people. Pitch to the right journalists to boost awareness on a local or even a national scale with a simple tool like a targeted media list.


Forbes Communications Council is an invitation-only community for executives in successful public relations, media strategy, creative and advertising agencies. Do I qualify?


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