The Art of Building a Media List

January 10, 2020

You have the perfect story to share with the media. It’s visual. It would have great impact. However, unless you get your story in front of the right reporters, it could result in a dead end.

Here are four tips to help you build a media list:

Determine your audience. By doing this, you’ll be better able to determine which types of outlets you want to engage—traditional media, trades, speciality publications, or something else. Are you hoping to reach professionals, potential students, or the community? These considerations will help with the next step.

Research your media outlets. If you are simply hoping to reach a certain geographic area, this can be quickly determined. However, the more specific and narrow your story is (e.g., of interest to a small subset of people such as researchers, medical doctors, or teachers), the more consideration needs to be given to which outlets you want to engage. In some instances, outlets that have limited reach might actually be the best fit for your pitch.

Find your contacts. Once you figure out which outlets you want to reach, you need to find a specific person to contact. Avoid general news inboxes and instead focus on reporters who cover what you're pitching, editors who lead teams that cover your topic, or producers who book interviews for radio. If you don’t subscribe to a service that has a media database, then LinkedIn, Twitter, and Muck Rack are three free ways to supplement your earlier research into the outlets you will pitch and to track down a specific contact.

Organize and maintain your list. Organize your media list as you see fit, whether it’s by type of outlet in a spreadsheet or any other way that works best for you. Keep in mind that journalists move around, so maintaining an up-to-date list can often be time-consuming. However, the return on your time investment will be worth it.

Also keep in mind that targeting journalists who are already interested in your topic increases the likelihood of coverage and limits negative feedback.

If you have questions about strategies for building media lists, reach out to University Public Relations any time at unews@umn.edu.

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