How do you build and maintain a media list? Having up to date and accurate media lists is a key component in ensuring that your story makes the news. Getting coverage of your story is a transaction. It involves sending your release to a collection of people who might have an interest in your story. If your story fits their narrative, they will likely cover it, bringing media attention to your story or campaign. A strong media list that targets specialist journalists will result in a bigger uptake of the story as it will be appealing to their audience.
In this article we will look at:
- What is a media list?
- How to create a media list
- How to get the most out of your media list
- How to target specific audiences with your list
- How to build a list using MediaHQ
- Final media list checklist.
What is a media list?
A media list is a compilation of correspondents, reporters, editors, producers and others within the media industry who can help you to get your story across to the media. A media list generally consists of:
- a journalist’s name
- email address
- telephone number
- job title
- divided into lists according to their journalistic focus.
A good list will be organised and frequently kept up to date to take account of the latest changes in the media industry. For this reason, it is favoured to use a list building tool like a media database to ensure that any changes in the media industry can be tracked and incorporated into your active lists.
How to create a media list
List building can be time-consuming, especially if you want to yield the best results possible, but taking the time to research your media list is imperative in ensuring the success of your story.
A media list can be built in one of three ways:
- Data Entry – manually entering your contacts into an excel sheet
- Scraping the internet – searching the internet for contacts who fit your audience brief
- Use a software tool – using a tool that has the contact details of every journalist and integrated list building functions
Using an integrative tool like a media database can take the guesswork out of list building and make it a quick and simple process. A media database will have the details of journalists who cover an array of topics and will let you search for specific information on these journalists to build a list with the click of a button. At MediaHQ, the list building process has been designed with the fast pace of the PR industry in mind. The dropdown topic search allows a user to filter their search by subject and add these contacts to a list in one go.
Using software that has the email addresses and telephone numbers as well as Twitter and Linkedin profiles of journalists in the one place takes the grunt work out of list building. Using a database makes it easier to keep track of media movements and makes keeping your lists updated a simple task. Gone are the days of filtering through lists to figure out which contacts are bouncing and why. At MediaHQ, users get a notification when a contact in one of their lists has changed jobs which allows them to quickly and easily remove irrelevant contacts from certain lists or add journalists to new ones.
How to get the most out of your media list
Here are some steps you can take to build an effective list to get coverage of your story.
Do your research
Know your audience and the kind of journalists you want to reach with your press releases. Doing research into the media industry and discovering when to send a release to a planning desk, specialist journalist or freelance writer is the best place to start when it comes to building media lists. Your list should be agile and easy to tweak based on the content and audience it is aimed towards.
Determine who you want to reach
Deciding on your audience and figuring out which journalists will most likely cover your story is an essential part of list building. If your company focuses on the food and restaurant industry, you’ll want to compile a list of food critics and wine writers. The next step is finding these contacts and curating your list. The most effective way to find your target audience is by using a media database. This will allow you to search for your specific audience and curate a list with a wide audience
Organise your contacts
Once you have found your audience, it’s time to organise your contacts and assemble your list. One way to do this is to create a spreadsheet with the names, email addresses and job titles of your contacts. Another much simpler way is to use a media database to curate your list. This will allow you to add, remove and update contacts in one place while keeping up with the job movements of your contacts.
Keep your lists updated
With the fast-paced nature of the media industry, it is easy to let list maintenance slip down the list of priorities but keeping your lists up to date is one of the most important factors in getting effective press coverage. If your list is full of bounces and out of date contacts, the likelihood of your story getting picked up is significantly reduced. Checking your PR analytics to see which emails are bouncing is one way to ensure that old contacts are removed. Using a media database is another simple way to keep up with changes within the media industry. At MediaHQ, users are notified when a contact on one of their lists has changed jobs or been updated which allows users to quickly update these contacts.
How to target specific audiences with your Media list
Journalists get inundated with hundreds of press releases daily. The key to getting your story to stand out in this sea of emails is to know your audience and build a list to specifically target the journalists or desks who are likely to cover your story.
If you are sending a release about an event happening in the future and want a specific channel or newspaper to cover it, consider putting together a list including the planning desk of an organisation along with some specialist journalists who generally cover the topic of the event.
If your press release has a clear-cut subject, for example, your client has an art gallery with a new exhibition, the best way to build media coverage for this is to put together a list of art and culture critics and correspondents and send it out to them with exclusive information about the opening.
If you are pitching to a TV channel and want to get exclusive coverage with them, address them individually and do your research on the company’s different departments to find out which journalists would be best suited to the piece and build your list around that. When pitching to a TV channel, it is important to remember that they will want pictures and voices to go with a pitch so remember to include these within your press release. If you are pitching a breaking news story, it is counterproductive to send it to a planning desk as they only prepare for days ahead. Having a curated list of breaking news writers and producers is crucial to your story being covered.
It is important to research the outlet that you are sending a press release or campaign to and taking the time to build accurate lists with only those who specialise in your topic or those who may have an interest in covering it. It can be time-consuming to build individual lists but the time spent on ensuring that you target the right journalists for your piece will be rewarded tenfold in the coverage of your story.
Five important things to consider when putting together a press release:
Subject Line – Ensure that you have a subject line that will stand out in a sea of emails.
Visual Presentation – How easy it would be for a journalist to quickly write up a piece and slot your story in?
Empathy – Put yourself in the shoes of the audience and consider what aspects of your story will stand out to them. Build on this and make those the key points.
Exclusivity – Consider giving some outlets exclusive access to your story. This will lead as an incentive for an outlet to cover your story and will boost your potential for success.
Media Lists – Take your time to research your audience and put together lists based on journalists who are likely to take an interest in your story. This is also a great way to build a strong relationship with journalists.
Check out this piece on how to perfect the first line of your press release.
How to Build a Media List using MediaHQ
MediaHQ makes list building a quick and easy task by giving users access to over 50,000 journalists from across the UK and Ireland and allowing them to filter based on topic, location, media type, contact type and more. The topic search allows for precise filtering which brings up only journalists who specialise in topics such as sports, arts and culture and business. There is a range of first, second and third level topics with each level more niche than the last with searches including agritech, forestry, sustainable transport and skincare.
The process of building a list on MediaHQ:
Plan your audience
Choose the audience and topic that your press release centres around and filter based on this. For example, if you have a story based on regional GAA, type GAA into the topic search and filter by regional.
Choose your contacts
When you know your target audience, it is time to choose the specific contacts to add to your list. After you filter by topic, you will get a small selection of journalists who specialise in that area. Decide if you want to add all of these contacts or a specific selection to your lists.
Create your list
If you choose to add all of the results to your list, simply check the select all box at the top of the page and create a new list. If you want to add specific journalists to your list, you can search them individually and click the ‘add to list button on their profile.
Keep your lists up to date
This step frequently gets pushed down on a list of priorities but is one of the most important steps when it comes to list-building. The MediaHQ news feed keeps track of every media movement in the industry and the ‘My Updates’ tab on the dashboard notifies users every time a contact on one of their lists has been updated. This mitigates the need to search through lists to see who has moved and which emails are bouncing. It is a simple way to ensure that lists are kept up to date and the user’s story reaches as many people as possible.
Final Media List Checklist
Use this checklist to ensure that you are on the right track to get the most out of your media lists:
- Have you planned your audience?
- Have you chosen your contacts?
- Have you organised your contacts into lists by speciality?
- Are you using a media database?
- Have you got a plan to keep your lists updated?
If you answered yes to these questions, you are ready to start gaining media coverage from your lists.
Looking to send your own Press Releases? More than just a Press Release Distribution tool. MediaHQ helps you find journalists, build media lists, distribute press releases and analyse results.
More about Ciara Byrne
Ciara is a Research Executive at MediaHQ. Ciara has a degree in Media and English from DCU and has been working with MediaHQ since graduating in 2019.