An essential component of any media relations effort is the creation of a media list.  A media list is, as the name suggests, a list of journalists and bloggers that you plan to connect with about your news.

Why use a media list

ChecklistFirst rule of everything: Know your audience. The action of building a media list allows you to think long and hard about who will be receiving your news, and how you might approach each individual differently to ensure they see value in covering it. A media list also ensures you haven’t forgotten someone essential and it is a handy reference for follow-up purposes, or subsequent related campaigns.

How to put together a media list

Create your media list once you have identified the campaign’s objectives and the ultimate audience you are trying to reach.  Depending on your news, you can use an online media directory to target your list by media outlet, type, geography and beats covered. Contact information in media directories is usually up-to-date, giving you one less thing to worry about. But remember, you need to supplement the information you can pull from a database with your own research.

Aim to collect the following information:

  • Name, Title and Publication name
  • Contact information: email, phone number, Twitter ID if you have it
  • What story angles would be of greatest appeal?
  • How does the journalist prefer to be contacted?
  • What materials does he or she usually need or like? (video, photos?)
  • What’s the best time to connect?
  • What story angles are of greatest appeal?

Enhance your media list by:

  • Reading each journalist or blogger’s body of work to determine whether your news is appropriate for their beat, their publication or their interests. (Refer to any articles that seem relevant to your news – but don’t pitch a journalist on a story he or she has recently written.)
  • Learning whether anyone in your organization already has a relationship with anyone on your list
  • Reviewing your organization’s past lists for similar campaigns. Recheck and update old information.
  • Taking a look at who has written about you in the past and who has covered your competitors.
  • Determining which contacts will require multimedia assets with your news.
  • Considering a media group, like local or ethnic media that you haven’t before.
  • Refining to ensure you only have one person from each media outlet or beat that you will contact.

Now what?

Well, get going!  Start some conversations!

Using a newswire to distribute a news release ensures all media outlets have simultaneous access to your news, so don’t feel compelled to replicate this service with a mass email to your whole media list.  Besides, the most effective pitches are individually prepared for each journalist or blogger on your list and should be handled separately according to their preferences. To save time, you can prepare any outreach emails in advance so you only need to hit ‘send’ on each one when ready.

Once you reach out, don’t forget to track your interactions in your media database. This information will come in handy next time.

Here are some resources for effective media relations that cover the next steps:

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