How to Develop the Perfect Media List

by Sydney Stressman

Whether you’re onboarding a new client or have been working with a client for several years, having an updated media list is essential to landing media coverage. Media lists are one of the most valuable tools a PR pro has. A media list should provide you with everything you need to know about a reporter – from their name, publication, and email to their beat, preferences, and Twitter handle. Most PR pros use their media lists multiple times a day as part of our outreach and list maintenance.

At Zer0 to 5ive, we like to build a master list that contains multiple sublists within it, including lists for national, trade, vertical, and local media. Depending on the type of client and their various needs, you could have upwards of 30 different targeted media lists within your master list.

Newsrooms are also constantly changing, making it even more important to keep up with your media list. Sending client news to outdated email addresses won’t garner media converge, but will garner frustration. It is important that PR pros remain up to date and in tune with journalists and their publications.

To start creating a top-notch master media list for your clients, you should have the 5 following lists:

Top 25 Publications

Strategy is key in public relations. Your top 25 publications are all about strategy. Brainstorm with your team: who are the most influential journalists that should be writing about your client?

For technology clients, this list usually includes the “top” national, trade, vertical and local publications. You should include your clients in the process of choosing the top publications, as they may have some priorities for coverage, or know of highly influential smaller publications that might not be so obvious in Cision or Meltwater. Agreeing on the top publications can help you and your client align on how success will be measured. This is also a great time to set their expectations for what they’ll need to get into these publications.

You can, and should, use this list to measure the success of your PR efforts. When it is time to present your efforts to your clients, you can highlight coverage from within their top 25 list. If your media efforts are successful, you should be able to check off most of the publications!

National Media

National media is where almost every business owner wants to be. And let’s face it, every PR pro wants to get their client on the front page of a national publication, too.

Garnering national coverage requires a national-level story and strong media relationships. Working with your clients to identify what they will need to make that a possibility is key to the groundwork you should do. In addition, you really need to know the publication and the journalists – what are the potential angles that you can take with your story? Are there industry trends that are being covered that you can leverage?

Developing relationships with national reporters takes time. It is likely that building relationships and awareness of your client could take months or years, especially if they aren’t public, are small, or have more of a B2B focus.

A few national publications you might want on your list (depending on your audience):

  • The New York Times
  • Wall Street Journal
  • US News and World Report
  • USA Today
  • Forbes
  • Bloomberg
  • Associated Press
  • NPR
  • Time Magazine
  • Wired

Trade Media

Depending on the client, trade media can be the most important targets for your media outreach. Trade publications write and share articles that are targeted toward members of a certain industry. For instance, for e-commerce clients there are targeted publications like Digital Commerce 360, while for education or edtech clients there are publications like Education Week, and for technology clients there are outlets like TechCrunch, and the list goes on.

Trade media is extremely important for many reasons. As PR pros, we need to make sure our clients understand the value of trade publications. Trade publications connect your client with their main target audience, as opposed to national coverage, which has broad reach and status, but may not be a targeted fit. With trade publications, you are able to create a voice for your client and can help them become known as a thought-leader in the industry. Additionally, trade coverage can lead to national coverage as many national reporters will rely on trade publications to get a pulse of an industry’s “movers and shakers.”

A few trade publications you might want on your list (depending on your client’s industry):

  • AI/Technology: TechCrunch, VentureBeat, ZDNet, Quartz
  • BioTech/MedTech: FierceHealthcare, MD Magazine, Oncology Times, In Vivo
  • Education/EdTech: Education Week, T.H.E. Journal, EdSurge, eSchool News
  • E-Commerce: Digital Commerce 360, Multichannel Merchant, Retail Dive
  • FinTech: American Banker, Banking Dive, PaymentsJournal, FinTech Futures

Local Media

Last, but not least, is the local media. Generating local buzz for your client can lead to great opportunities for them, and can be helpful for recruiting and local investment. You want to make sure your client is seen and heard throughout their local community. Be sure to target any business journals, newspapers, TV and radio stations, podcasts, and more, that focus on sharing news within the area.

Let’s Get Pitching!

Developing the right media list will help you be successful and generate strong media coverage. Take the time to really get to know your target publications and the different avenues you can take for client coverage, from pure product announcements to thought leadership or CEO profiles. Keep up with your media contacts and update your media list on a regular basis and you will reap the reward. Happy pitching!