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Building A Media List That Works

When it comes to media outreach, you’re only as good as your media list. Send the best pitch to the wrong targets, and it’ll fall flat.

Thankfully, it’s not difficult to build a list that works; it just takes time and attention.

The main ‘trick’ to media list development is simple: identify journalists who have a demonstrated interest in the type of story you plan to pitch. If you do this, using the additional guidance detailed below, your chances of success will be high.

Research, research, research. Then research some more.

Each media contact that makes it onto your list must be a realistic target for the topic you’re pitching. If you don’t have a reason to believe that someone might truly be interested in your pitch, don’t add him or her to your list.

If you subscribe to a media database service like Cision or Muck Rack, start your research there. Pull a list based on your chosen criteria (beat, location, outlet name, outlet type, etc.). This list, in most cases, should not be your final media list.

Once you have your media database search results, comb through the list carefully. Take to Google, social media, and media outlets themselves to look into each contact’s recent coverage. Remove anyone who doesn’t appear to be a good fit for your pitch angle.

If you don’t use a media database, start combing through Google, social media, and your targeted media outlets. Search for terms related to your industry and your specific pitch topic to see who has written recently about relevant subjects. Piece your list together this way – and, if you need help tracking down journalists’ contact information, check out this post.

Take notes.

Once you start reaching out to the contacts on your media list, keep careful notes about your outreach and about any feedback you receive.

Each time you begin a new round of media outreach, reference these notes to ensure you don’t over-pitch the same contacts, and to take specific feedback into account. These notes will help you refine your pitching for each contact, further contributing to your long term media outreach success.

Remember: your media list is a living, breathing document.

Don’t treat your media list like a static document. A media list that gets results is one that gets checked, double checked, and updated often.

Media contacts move around – from outlet to outlet, coverage beat to coverage beat – often. Check your list regularly to make sure your contacts are still relevant.

This step is particularly important at the time of this writing, during the COVID-19 pandemic. Countless reporters have put their regular coverage on hold to focus their efforts entirely – or almost entirely – on COVID-19 and related topics.


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