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When you start to seek press coverage for your business, your media list—the repository that contains your research about outlets that your target audience reads—is your lifeline.

But getting to the point of being able to turn to your media list and pitch with confidence, there are several steps you’ll want to take to be sure that you’re targeting the right contacts. After all, a media list with the wrong contacts is just as bad as no media list at all (not to mention frustrating for those reporters on the receiving end of your pitch).

Getting Started with Creating a Media List

Know Your Audience

To start honing your media list, you’ll want to make sure that you’re targeting appropriate outlets for the articles you want to get published. For example, you probably wouldn’t want to pitch a story about off-roading vehicles to an online parenting magazine. If you’ve created a customer persona or multiple personas, then you not only have a good idea about who your ideal customers are, but you also have insight into the media he or she consumes.

Capture Information

To create a media list, you’ll want to be sure you capture all of the most pertinent information. So much evolves over time, including how media wants to be contacted, which reporters are at which outlets, and even new social media networks they can be pitched on, so revisit this repository often.

Depending upon what you have access to in terms of technology to help you curate a media list, one easy method (if you don’t have access to tech) is to quickly set up a spreadsheet to record key information about each publication and contact. These columns include the name/URL of the publication, the reporter’s name, title or beat (i.e. technology editor), contact information (including email, social media handles and phone number), and any notes about the publication or reporter. Because the social media landscape is constantly in flux, with reporters moving around, topics evolving and titles changing/promotions, you’ll want to continually update your media list.

Why recommend a spreadsheet versus using software? As reporters move roles and media outlets, it’s not always updated in real-time (or quickly enough) on those platforms. By keeping tabs myself, I’m able to always be in the know about who is going where and when.

Seems simple, right? This is all relatively easy if you’re clear on what media your target audience consumes. But what happens if you don’t know? And now with media outlets and reporters covering a variety of topics, it can be ultra confusing to determine if there is a reporter covering a particular topic your audience may find interesting.

Find the Right Media Outlets

Here are a couple of quick and easy ways to find the right outlets to reach your desired readers.

Use a News-Specific Search Engine

Pick a search engine like Google News. Next, type in keywords or phrases related to your product, service, or offer. For example, let’s say you’re trying to figure out where to pitch your content about the latest trends in off-roading vehicles published. You’ll type in something like, “off-roading + trends”.

Scroll through the results to find the most popular articles written about your subject, and copy the information about those outlets into your media list spreadsheet.

Pro tip: If you want to see the most recent articles, you can select “tools” when you search to customize the date range. The more recent, the better.

Once you’re on a publication that seems like your target customer would read, always check out the advertising section to find the demographics of the pub. If they’re similar, BINGO! Add it to your list. If not, dig a little deeper. There may be opportunities to contribute about a particular topic on a one-off basis (think: holidays), or the outlet may truly not be a fit at all. In that case, move on.

Use Social Media to Cull Your List

Social networks are a powerful way to find the top media outlets that write about any given topic. For example, log into Twitter, and look at the top right hand corner of the homepage to find its search engine. Type in your key search words or phrases to see which media outlets are tweeting about your topics. Next, click on “News.” The results will be outlets that are tweeting about your key topics.

Pro tip: The advanced search option in Twitter is extremely helpful. With this tool, you can dig a lot deeper and search by words, people, places and even dates.

Another easy way to find media covering is through the use of hashtags. They will often lead to articles about that topic, which could tip you off to the outlets covering that topic.

Begin With the End in Mind

When creating your media list, think about the end goals you want to reach. Do you want to beat out competition? Appeal to buyers within a certain industry? Great. Reverse engineer that and search for news about your competitors. If an outlet is featuring them, chances are they’ll want to hear about you too. Does your product, service, or offer cater to a particular industry? Fantastic. Industry pundits will want to know how your company can benefit them.

Do Not Set It and Forget It

Set it and forget is not a good media list strategy, yet so many PR professionals don’t take the time to update their lists (again: your lifeline!). Building a media list takes an immense amount of time and effort and it’s something that must be managed and maintained often.

Pro tip: Schedule a calendar reminder to check on your media list’s overall health. Take time to edit any reporters that may have moved on to a new gig, new reporters that are starting out and need a quick briefing about your company, or new media outlets. 

Creating a media list can seem like a heavy lift—and it is in the beginning. But the reward and ease in which you can pitch and eventually secure coverage is worth the investment in time and effort to be sure you get it right.

For more powerful PR tips and tricks or to brush up on your PR know-how, check out this guide to all things PR. Ready to tackle a new challenge? Sign up to receive weekly jobs emails from