A PR media list lets you easily organize all your important contacts. You can appeal to multiple audiences en masse and on time. However, each communication specialist knows the possible headaches behind creating a media list for PR.

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So it’s essential to be well-organized to build PR lists that generate results. You don’t want to spend your time creating fantastic content that won’t be seen by the right people or, worse yet, won’t be seen at all. 

That’s why in the following article, we’ll share tips to help you create an organized media list for gaining better PR coverage

What Is A Media List?

A media list for PR (also called a press list or a contacts list) represents a database of media contacts relevant to your business and industry. Generally speaking, there are contacts with whom you collaborate on public relations/promo activities and to whom you send your press releases, news, quotes, and other content. 

Media contacts include journalists, bloggers, podcasters, influencers, and other professionals interested in covering your story or product. 

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There are two key ways to build a media list for PR. You can buy a ready-made media list from a service provider. Alternatively, you can create your own media list from scratch using online databases, directories, social media platforms, events, and other sources.

Media contacts include journalists, bloggers, podcasters, influencers, and other professionals

Should I Buy Media Lists?

Buying a media list can effectively save time and money on finding new media contacts. However, some risks include outdated or inaccurate information, legal issues, or ethical concerns.

When considering the purchase of media lists for PR, it’s essential to check whether this aligns with your overall strategy. While it may seem like a quick solution, there are several drawbacks to consider:

  • Quality concerns and high bounce rates. Often, PR lists include low-quality or outdated email addresses.
  • Risk of overuse. Email addresses on purchased lists are likely overloaded, meaning your message could be lost among others.
  • Privacy issues. Individuals on these lists may not have consented to be contacted, raising ethical concerns.
  • Lack of personal relationships. Buying a list doesn’t equate to building relationships, which are crucial in media outreach.

So, building your media list can be more rewarding and strategic than relying on purchased lists. 

You select individuals who best align with your story. These relationships lead to a deeper understanding of mutual interests and trust, ensuring that communications are relevant and valued. Therefore, investing time in developing meaningful media connections is more beneficial. Yet, it requires more research and effort on your part. 

Let’s simplify this process step-by-step.

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How To Build Media Lists For PR: 5 Steps 

To create an effective media list for PR, you need to find out who the key players in your field are, their topics of interest, where they publish or broadcast their content, and how you can contact them. This process is doable within five stages.

Define your goals in building media lists 

It’s essential to clarify your objectives. Viewing this activity strategically, you can understand for which activities you need a contact list, time and budget restraints, what overall goals you are seeking to accomplish, and additional factors. 

Defining goals
Clarify your objectives

This decomposition will help you see the bigger picture and real goals for creating PR contact lists. Eventually, you’ll be able to identify the type of media you’re targeting, whether those are internationally renowned outlets or local media, determine the contacts you need (editors, authors, hosts, or their assistants), and when/how to reach them. 

As an illustration, you need to get your CMO to 1-2 niche local podcasts within 3 upcoming months. You have a budget for that. So you understand whom to reach out to, with which discussion ideas, opportunity for a paid appearance, etc.

Choose a database for your media list 

The next step is to choose a format for your database. The most spread are spreadsheets and specialized CRM solutions. The choice depends on your personal preferences, workload, volume of contacts, team size, and budget, of course. Also, thinking beyond your immediate needs for a journalist’s contact list is important. Consider how your chosen method will serve you in the long term, ideally for many years. 

Commonly, Excel, Google Sheets, Airtable, or spreadsheets are used. The primary advantage of using spreadsheets is their accessibility and versatility, making them convenient starting options. A downside to spreadsheets is that they can become cluttered and less efficient over time, especially as your list grows and requires more complex management. Google Sheets works well for managing a small number of media contacts. 

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Example of a media list for PR in Google Sheets
Example of a media list for PR in Google Sheets

If you have big plans for media outreach, investing in a CRM system can be an efficient move.

While there’s a learning curve and initial investment involved, the long-term benefits of a PR database system can outweigh the comfort of sticking with familiar yet less efficient methods.

Most CRM software for PR stands out with these features

  • Sophisticated tagging and segmentation for dynamic media list creation
  • Automated detection and correction of erroneous or repeated email addresses
  • Enhanced features for updating and enriching contact information
  • Facilities for collaborative work within teams
  • Analytical tools to track PR metrics.
  • Adherence to data protection and privacy laws
  • Integration with press release generators, newsroom publishers, media kit creators, etc

Also, some communications professionals use email software to manage PR lists. Email clients are practical for small-scale contact management, fitting for the number of contacts one can easily recall. While they don’t offer advanced database analysis features like tagging or categorizing contact types, they help create mailing lists to distribute content. However, it’s essential to be aware of consent and GDPR considerations, as manual intervention is required to unsubscribe contacts.

Selecting the right method that meets your current needs and adapts to your evolving requirements will ensure a long-lasting and effective resource for your media relations efforts.

Identify contact details for your PR media list 

For any industry, your media lists for PR should minimally include the following:

  • The contact’s full name
  • Their job title or professional position
  • The name of the publication or media outlet they represent
  • A website
  • Social media profile links (commonly LinkedIn and X)
  • Specific area of expertise or industry
  • Contact details (email address)
  • Notes about career background
  • Any useful additional information

These requirements can vary depending on whether it’s a specific campaign or a general media list.

PR Media list
Media lists for PR

In terms of additional information, I usually add the following:

  • Status: new contact, already reached, responded, etc.
  • Priority: if it’s a media list for a sequence of campaigns, it’s easier to segment contacts by priority.
  • A personalized catch: a specific sentence about a recent contribution of a journalist, a question, appreciation, or a witty line.

It’s always better to record more details. But again, any additional information depends on the particular activity for which you’re crafting a PR list. 

Research and segment media

You can search for contacts manually via search engines and social media. Despite the various media database services, the effectiveness of old-fashioned manual searches cannot be understated, especially for small teams.

Use the search functions to find specific roles, such as “healthcare journalist” or “New York fashion blogger.” Enter search phrases like “[keyword] writer” or “[keyword] correspondent,” tailoring the keyword to your specific needs.

Another approach is to identify particular media outlets of interest and locate key contacts within them. Use resources like Google News and various SERP and social media monitoring tools to help uncover these individuals.

Consider using platforms like Determ for advanced search capabilities. Segment your media contacts into groups to tailor your PR outreach more effectively. You can create queries based on keywords, location, language, sentiment, reach, and other filters to narrow your search get relevant results, and categorize them. Additionally, this media monitoring tool can help you track your media outreach and generate comprehensive reports.

Sentiment analysis
Sentiment Analysis, Determ

Tailor your media list for PR

Regarding contact segmentation, it helps to streamline your database and understand which individuals to approach in specific campaigns. It’s ideal to tailor your media list for PR based on several categories:

  1. Behavioral. Categorize media contacts based on their previous interactions, stories you’ve pitched to them, preferred communication methods, past collaborations, and engagement with your content, including any they might have declined.
  2. Geography. Main geography of a media outlet audience.
  3. Media target audience. Experts, professionals, junior specialists, students, etc. 
  4. Media format preferences. Consider specific traits like media type, for instance, video content, social media images, infographics, or in-depth articles. You can also analyze their primary distribution channels.
  5. Generational segmentation. Target media outlets to specific generations.
  6. Event-specific segmentation. Create media lists for specific events like product launches or awards announcements.
  7. Expert type. Differentiate between traditional journalists, industry experts, and modern digital influencers or content creators.
  8. Social engagement metrics. Classify based on audience engagement metrics like follower growth and others.
  9. Cultural. Segment contacts based on cultural differences and language preferences.

The more specific your segments, the more personalized and targeted your outreach can be.

Start developing a media list for PR 

Platforms like LinkedIn and X are essential for finding and building organic, mutually beneficial relationships with contacts. LinkedIn can be a great starting point, especially when setting up a new CRM system. It helps transfer all your contacts and track your relationships as they develop.

However, your network isn’t just who you know but also who your connections know. You can ask them to introduce you to someone who fits your requirements. Join online communities in your field and collaborate with peers. Share opportunities and keep an eye out for when others do the same. 

Cold email outreach still can work. Send personalized emails explaining your purpose and who you want to connect with. When reaching out, avoid spamming. Invest time in understanding the content your contacts specialize in. Find emails through email finder solutions, but provide unsubscribe options, and once again – don’t spam people!

Bonus: Keep Your PR Contact Lists Updated

We made it, we managed to build a list for PR – from understanding purposes to establishing connections. But it’s not the end.

Many PR professionals face challenges maintaining well-organized, current media lists, particularly when shared among team members. Without a specialized CRM for PR, you may find yourself juggling various tools like spreadsheets, email clients, LinkedIn conversations, etc.

PR contact list
Build a list for PR

To address these issues, you need to review your contact lists periodically (quarterly, once a year, etc.). If you’re working in a team, consolidate and share the database within the team, add comments for a contact if something changes.

Analyzing your outreach campaign statistics (bounce rates, open rates, reply rates) can help you identify inactive contacts. Also, you can check LinkedIn profiles to see if a person has changed the company and use email verification tools. 

A good way of keeping a media list updated is to establish a connection by engaging with a person’s social media, leaving comments, and sending a message from time to time. Then, you’ll have a partnership, and the person can let you know of changing their contact information. For instance, I had a few cases when editors dropped me a message that they were leaving the company or changing their email addresses.

These methods can transform how you handle PR lists, offering a more efficient approach.

Wrap Up

A thoughtfully crafted journalist contact list can be a valuable asset for years to come. 

Developing and maintaining strong relationships with individuals on your media lists for PR is imperative. These connections are vital for staying ahead of the competition, securing exclusive access to events, and achieving your goals. 

So, never underestimate the power of building and nurturing relationships with key players in your industry. Take charge and make it happen!

Dmytro Zaichenko is a Marketing Specialist at Coupler.io, a platform that turns complex data into simple reports, offering marketing reporting templates, integration functionality, and more. He has over 3 years of experience in digital marketing, particularly in SaaS. Apart from experimenting with marketing tactics, he’s a huge NBA fan.

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