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By Jennifer Lewis

As a PR professional, you know that pitching is the backbone of successful media relations. It can make or break your client’s chances of getting coverage, and let’s face it; we’ve all been there. You’ve spent countless hours researching the perfect publication and crafting a compelling story pitch, only to receive radio silence. The frustration is real, and the questions start to pile up. Did I send it on the wrong day? Was my subject line not catchy enough? The truth is pitching is a complex art that requires a deep understanding of the media landscape, and even then, success is never guaranteed.

Often, the problem is not the pitch itself but rather the reporter being contacted.

The success of a story or product hinges on its ability to be seen and heard, and that’s where an effective media list comes in. Yet building a media list is challenging. It’s a complex, time-consuming process that requires extensive research and a deep understanding of the media landscape. It’s one of the most critical components of successful media relations. Without a well-crafted media list, your incredible story or product may fall on deaf ears, and all your hard work will go to waste. Building an effective media list is nothing less than an art form, and it’s a crucial step toward achieving your media relations goals.
What Is A Media List?

The first rule of PR: get organized, and what better way than to have a dedicated list of prominent reporters easily at your disposal? Whether you prefer Google sheets, an excel list, or some other crafty template, building a dedicated document for each account you manage, will seamlessly keep track of reporters pitched, responses, and follow-ups. 

Media lists should include the reporter’s name, publication, title, dates pitched, social handles, feedback, and a line for notes such as relevant articles previously published. An organized list can eliminate PR faux pas, such as pitching the same reporter twice or, worse, following up with a writer who has already declined an interview.

Trust PR Software – But Do Your Homework 

Many PR professionals rely on Cision or Muckrack to build media lists and obtain contact information for reporters across all beats. While these platforms are immensely beneficial, it’s crucial to investigate social media pages and recent articles on your own. Members of the media move, sometimes changing beats, job roles, or moving to a new publication in the blink of an eye. Doing a quick search will save time in the long run and will omit the number of frustrating bouncebacks that flood our inboxes. 

Additionally, while media databases are beneficial, there are other platforms PR professionals can utilize at little to no cost. LinkedIn and Twitter are powerful social search engines for finding reporters and building relationships. Help a Reporter Out (HARO) and Qwoted are free sites journalists often use when needing an expert source for an upcoming story. Finally, when all else fails, Google is your friend.

Know Your Message – and Your Audience 

In media relations, the goal of any pitch is to get your story told and in front of a relevant audience. It may seem like an obvious goal, but the pressures of securing coverage can often result in overlooking this fundamental rule. PR professionals must step back and identify the types of readers who would find value in the story before building an effective media list. For example, pitching a feature to a top-tier finance publication might seem like a win, but it’s a missed opportunity if your audience falls within the health and beauty sectors. To build a successful media list, it’s crucial to identify the blogs, websites, and podcasts your target audience frequents. It’s the only way to ensure your story reaches the right people and achieves the desired impact. In short, understanding your target audience is the key to unlocking success in media relations, and it starts with an effective media list.

Put the Relations in Media Relations

As a PR professional, it’s important to remember that building an effective media list is the first step in successful media relations. To truly excel in the field, we must put the “relations” back in media relations. While securing earned media may take time, investing in building meaningful relationships with reporters and journalists is crucial. Engage with their work on social media, ask them out for coffee, or drop them a line now and then without expecting anything in return. It is important to genuinely want to learn more about the media as individuals, and to form professional relationships with them.  As such, you can leave a lasting impression that will make securing coverage in the future even more effortless. The media is about people who can be key to unlocking success. So, let’s put the “relations” back into media relations and start nurturing those professional connections today.