When I first started in the publicity business more than 13 years ago, I used to build my media lists organically…
Meaning that I didn’t subscribe to a database or purchase media lists. I simply found the right journalists online, read their columns, introduced myself (via email or telephone), and then sent them valuable pitches, which they responded to more often than not.
5 Steps To Building A Powerful And Effective Media List That Produces Stellar PR Results
Taking a simple yet organic approach was the best way to build a powerful list for free and I believe it still is, despite all of the tools available.
1. Your Top 50 Dream Media Outlets
Now, it’s time for you to do the same–pull together a list of all (or at least the top 50) of the media you’d like to reach throughout your publicity campaign. Include the media outlet, title, editors’ names, and the beats that they cover. This is going to be the basis of the foundation of your media relations strategy.
2. Finding the Right Media Professionals
To jumpstart your media list building activities, think locally, regionally, and nationally (and internationally, if applicable). Consider online and print editors as well as television, podcast, and radio hosts, and producers. You can find this information by conducting a simple Google, Bing, Instagram, or Twitter search (we’ll discuss how to use Instagram and Twitter to find and connect with journalists later).
3. How to Pitch the Right Editor
It’s important to pitch the right media contact. Most outlets have several different editors, reporters, staff writers, freelancers, and contributing writers covering similar areas of interest. (Insiders refer to these different areas as “beats”). This can be confusing in determining the right person to contact. But nowadays, you can find this out by looking at MuckRack.com or LinkedIn.com or in the masthead of the magazine or website.
4. Easy Media Professional Organization
Once you determine which media professionals cover which beats, put their names into a Google spreadsheet so it’s easy for you to reference. Make columns for their first and last names, email addresses, titles, the beats they cover, the previous article titles they’ve written, and their outlets. This will make it convenient for you to track which professionals you have pitched, the date you last contacted them, the content of your pitch, and any relevant follow up notes.
5. How to Kill Media Professional Relationship Before It Starts
If you don’t keep a spreadsheet or a Google doc containing this information, it will quickly become confusing to determine the person you pitched, and you might end up pitching them the same story again, which is a no-no! The media relationship will be over before it even begins. There’s no more embarrassing outcome when you’re trying to get media coverage than bombarding a television producer or reporter with multiple requests in a haphazard fashion and having them reject you purely on that basis.
When I first started in the industry as a publicist, I contacted the same media professional at some local newspaper in Texas four times with the same pitch in three days. After the first two pitches, she was nice enough to tell me that she was not interested. But then after the fourth pitch, she grew very annoyed, told me to “stop emailing” and blocked me from any further communication. This happened because I did not remove her from my initial media list—how embarrassing.
Word of caution: keep your media lists updated and remove an editor or producer when they request it, otherwise it’s considered spam and the editor or producer may just call you out on social media. I’ve seen journalists and bloggers do this to other publicists on Twitter and Facebook. How embarrassing that would be.
Editorial Calendars: How to Use Them
To find out what editors and journalists cover on a day-to-day, week-to-week, or month-to-month basis, look at magazine, website, and newspaper editorial calendars. You can find this by visiting an outlet’s website or conducting a simple Google search.
Use keywords such as “New York Magazine editorial calendar” or “ELLE + editorial calendar” on Google or Bing. You’ll find an outline of all the sections and topics each outlet plans to cover throughout the year, which will help you put together short-term and long-range pitching schedules. I like to use editorial calendars as cheat sheets to help me plan my publicity activities throughout the year.
Exploring the vast world of PR can be an intimidating proposition for even the most seasoned entrepreneurs. To ensure you approach a PR campaign without being overwhelmed or letting the fear of rejection paralyze you, take the time to figure out what makes your brand newsworthy, find the appropriate media contact, and use editorial calendars to monitor what outlets are looking for what stories. If you follow these simple tips, you’ll be quite amazed at how quickly you begin to start building relationships with the right media professionals.
With more than 13 years of digital marketing and branding experience, Kristin Marquet is the CEO of the PR consultancy Marquet Media, and Editor-in-Chief of the women’s business magazine, FemFounder.co. She is releasing her third book: “From Nameless to Notable: How to Gain Influence, Establish Authority, and Reach Expert Status in Your Niche or Industry–The Ultimate Guide to Generating Media Coverage for Your Startup and Leveraging It to Increase Website Traffic, Email Subscribers” in June 2020 and opening up her signature PR masterclass this summer.