The basics of building a media list

Behind any good PR strategy, there’s a thorough Media List.

Not sure what a Media List is? Well, think of it as your secret weapon. It is a list compiling all the contacts of journalists and publications that are relevant to the sector your business operates. And its value is immeasurable whenever you need to make an important announcement for your company.

Before we kick off, here’s a list of different areas of the technology sector that end in -Tech. It will cause you to think along the lines of a Media List.

Can you think of a company for each sector? Let’s see how many you can get in 10 seconds:

  • PropTech

  • InsurTech

  • FinTech

  • EdTech

  • HealthTech

  • PetTech

  • MarTech

  • EdTech

  • BioTech

Of those nine companies that you have thought of, there is a mass of journalists, reporters, bloggers, producers, freelancers and editors across print, online blogs, radio and television covering each one. You need to find the needle in the haystack. The perfect contact at the perfect publication, which will place your company as a thought leader in that sector and evoke a buzz for that business.

Whether you have never made one before, or if you are a Media List aficionado, this blog post is going to have your Media List poppin’ pronto.

DO: Consider all your audiences.

How do you start?

- Think about your business objectives

- Each objective has an audience, so if funding is part of your next 12 months, then getting in front of an investor audience is key. If you're expanding then press could include titles potential talent read. Growth? You need customers, what do they read?

- For every potential audience, there are different publications you can approach.

You have many audiences, and you have different stories, all of which contribute to media list development. Write a list of all your audiences and the sectors that you are a part of, and this will act as a guide to building your database.

Remember when it comes to your audience, you aren't limited to traditional media. Your customer might consume their information through social media more than the papers or online publications. If they do, then widen your list to include social media influencers, podcasts, and Youtubers.

DON’T: Blindly add contacts to the list without checking them.

A search using one of the many media databases available in the market - such as ResponseSource of Cision, for example - or even the good old internet may pull a lot of different contacts from one media outlet.

It is up to you to go over each one of them to see which contact is the most appropriate one. Make sure that the journalist’s role and publication are relevant to your story. Often, their job title will hold the information that you need, you just need to be eagle-eyed.

DO: Delve further into a contact or publication.

A good way to find relevant contacts is to search for relevant articles and note the name of the journalist who wrote them. Vice versa, you should look up articles written by that journalist before you pitch to them, too.

Another tip? Set up Alerts using Google or Talkwalker for your competitors or key search terms. Anywhere they're mentioned, you can add to your own list.

DON’T: Think that once a media list is built the work is over.

Journalism is a dynamic industry so it’s normal that professionals move around publications quite frequently. Job roles often change and so will the destination of your pitches. This means your media list might become outdated every few months.

In order to avoid that, make it a habit of always updating it. You don’t want to miss the opportunity of getting your story covered because the person you had as a contact left the publication. Follow the journalists you're most eager to engage with, and learn about their moves through social updates.

DO: Approach this list with a militaristic organisation.

Doing the groundwork in the early days pays back dividends later on. The best way to keep your Media List organised is to keep it as an Excel sheet. Essential categories are the name of the media outlet, contact, job title, email address, phone number, and Twitter handle.

Also, label contact types (Property, Technology, Business) in the first column on the sheet. From our experience, it’s best to not keep them on separate tabs - this way is easier to spot duplicates!

Using your Media List well, you will gain good relationships with journalists and a succinct knowledge of the UK media landscape. And in PR, that’s truly invaluable.

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* This post was originally published in our newsletter The Communications Workshop. Sign up to get more free tips on communications and marketing here!