Media Lists: Accuracy is Key

Whether your client is a non-profit organization or small startup, a good media list is integral to its success. PR professionals and agencies use media lists to build relationships and “earn” coverage. But what exactly makes a media list good and effective? 

Advertising is expensive, and social media can only do so much. Because of this, pr pros focus on earned media – a traditional tactic of pr strategy and a term used to describe any press coverage that is not purchased. If you’re really lucky (and skilled), you can secure earned media featuring your client’s business or cause. Most often, earned media comes in the form of story quotes from company reps or subject matter experts.

For earned media efforts, start with a solid list of journalists, producers, and editors. You will want to reach out to those contacts and pitch story ideas where the writer would be able to quote your client executive or expert. Ami Neiberger, APR, owner of Maple Avenue PR, stresses the importance of accuracy in media lists. 

“These are the contacts you are disseminating information to about your client or organization, and it’s vital that your list be accurate,” she explains.

Key factors in building your media lists are location and genre. The best contacts are located near your organization’s target area of outreach and the types of stories they cover should match, or be similar to, your genre. One resource to use for finding reporters, in addition to the outlet’s website and searchable subscription databases, is Twitter or other social media platforms, according to Neiberger. 

“Sometimes reporters will reach out via Twitter seeking story sources, or columnists will pose a question to the community,” says Neiberger. “These are great opportunities to engage.”

Neiberger also recommends updating media lists quarterly to maintain accuracy as reporters switch jobs regularly. She says using a master spreadsheet or database is the best way to keep contacts organized. 

“Have columns for reporter names, media outlets, phone numbers, email addresses, and submission requirements, as well as topics of interest,” she advises. “Be sure you include general email inboxes, such as those for a news desk, community news or photo/video submissions.”

Need help developing your media list?  Contact us!

About the author:  Devon Rudolph is a senior at Robinson Secondary in Fairfax, Va. She plans to study journalism in college.