Categories: Public Relations

Create a Media List to Hit Press Coverage Goals

Whether you’re pitching an interview for your top executive, announcing a new product, or publicizing an incredible piece of content, creating a media contact list is an important step in getting your news out to the world. Why? Because it won’t matter how great your story is if you don’t have anyone in the media to pitch it to – and all the effort that went into creating that brilliant pitch or press release will be lost.

To get press coverage, here are 4 steps to consider to help you create a media list that really works for you.

Step 1: Know your story and audience.

Ask yourself the following questions to help you understand your story and audience:

How would your story best be presented to your intended audience? Will it work best in a printed press release? A blog article on a top blogger’s website? On the radio or TV? Think of where you have heard or seen similar pieces to help you decide where to focus your attention.

How big is the news? If it is worthy of national coverage, it’s going to mean focusing on pitching to large outlets and their top writers. If your news is more regional, then you should focus on staff writers at local outlets.

Is your story time-sensitive? If it will only be significant for the next few days or weeks, look for outlets with short lead times, such as daily newspapers, TV, or radio. News with a longer shelf life can be sent to monthly publications such as magazines.

Who do you want to see this campaign? What do they read, watch, or listen to? Do they get most of their information online? In trade magazines? Printed newspapers? It’s important to be where they are if you want to get their attention.

Step 2: Identify your outlets

Once you’ve worked through the above questions you’ll have a list of the types of outlets to target that will (1) help you get in front of your audience, and (2) be receptive to your pitch.

Next, you’ll need to identify the specific media outlets by name. For example, you may know that your ideal outlet is a newspaper, but which one? To help:

  • Search for media outlets based on the criteria you’ve defined for your campaign. For example, search on “newspapers in Pittsburgh”, and you’ll likely get a list of potential outlets. At this point you’ll want a spreadsheet to help you stay organized as you begin building your list.
  • Research your industry online and find similar campaigns or stories. This is a great way to find publications that you may have never heard of to add to your list.
  • Think of how you get your information. What do you read, watch, or listen to when you’re looking for news in your industry? Put those outlets on your list. Chances are if you’re there, you’re surely not the only one!

It’s good to have both “safeties” and “reaches” on your list, so be sure you’re categorizing these outlets accordingly. Doing so, will help you decide where to focus most of your time and energy.

Step 3: Identify your reporters

Next, identify the reporters and staff who will most likely pay attention to your pitch. Targeting the right person is important to getting your foot in the door. For example, the weather reporter is not going to care about your new software product launch, and the Editor-in-Chief most likely will not be the one reading pitches.

Here are a few tips to help you:

  • Visit target publication websites or buy the print version and search for the name of the reporter (s) who covers the topic or geographic region relevant to your news.
  •  After identifying the reporter (s), read their past work and make notes about specific articles – style, tone, etc. This will come in handy later when you pitch them.
  • Gather contact information for the reporters including their phone and email address. Try to avoid generic emails like editor@paper.com as these rarely get a response. Can’t find the reporters individual email? Try this:
    • Call the office and speak with the editorial department, assistant, or intern and ask them to verify the contact information.
    • Find the email of another staff member and follow that format with your desired contacts information. For example, initial.lastname@publication.com.

Step 4: Grow your list

Your newly constructed media list should be fluid, not static. Reporters come and go, and new outlets or columns appear on the scene. Always be on the lookout for new contacts, and be sure to add them to your database. Mark your calendar to review at least a portion of your list each month.

The bottom line

Building your own media list is not a quick process, but it can be much more affordable and effective than using database subscriptions or buying outdated lists. The bottom line? A little investment in your time and energy now can lead to PR success down the road.


About Ethos

Ethos is a multiplatform branding agency that develops and executes integrated marketing campaigns across multiple channels for companies inside and outside Maine.

At Ethos, we believe that the most effective way to set a company’s marketing course is by finding its core truth – its ethos. We know that once we discover and communicate that core truth, we can truly make a difference to each client’s unique marketing and business objectives.

With Ethos, you get more than a Maine advertising agency. You get a long-term partner whose goals are your goals.

Learn more about the Ethos approach and the work we’ve done for our clients. Want to have a conversation about your brand’s core truth? Contact us!