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The Ingredients for Cooking Up an Effective Media List

Published: December 5, 2017       Updated: April 23, 2024

4 min read

What value does a message have if it’s not directed to the correct audience? It’s almost like preparing a restaurant meal without first asking diners what they’d like to have—a recipe for failure. The strategy, purpose and timeliness behind an announcement are essentially useless if it falls on the wrong ears or into the wrong inbox.

 At Idea Grove, we view media lists as the very foundation of our PR efforts and strategies. Media lists can make or break the effectiveness of an announcement and should always be customized, as well as properly maintained for each client. Here are a few special ingredients to help you cook up an effective media list, one that will bolster the outcome of your next PR campaign.

Establish the Goal 

The foundation of a media list is to determine what exactly a client is trying to accomplish with this announcement, story or event. The end goal has everything to do with the types of journalists that will comprise the list. 

Say you’re pitching an event. Is the goal to simply educate the reporter and keep them in the loop on the client’s happenings? Or is it to have the reporter actually attend the event? If the goal is to have the reporter attend, your first criteria for the media list should be location.

You also need to determine the goal for the coverage. For example, if a client’s objective is to get their product announcement in technology press, this dramatically narrows down the media you can target to make the campaign a success.

Research, Research, Research

Once you’ve established the goal of the announcement or event, research is the next pivotal ingredient. Begin by searching on the topic to gauge who has covered it in the past.

If you’re pitching a funding announcement, for example, find out the names of reporters at major newspapers that cover funding. To narrow it down even more, search by verticals to determine who covers funding announcements in the particular industry in question.

If you have a list of your client’s top competitors, it’s also smart to look at who has covered similar announcement for those competitors. Once you find a reporter that fits, consider their entire beat to confirm the topic is truly of interest to them, and not just a one-time article.

Keep in mind that new beats spring up in response to new technology trends and job functions. More and more companies are employing data scientists, which means that many publications have data reporters on staff who cover topics like surveys and research papers. If tech trailblazers like Elon Musk, Bill Gates or Richard Branson are working on a new venture, you can be sure that reporters across the country are assigned to that beat.

 Also, don’t forget to research influencers like freelancers, analysts and bloggers. Many industry experts with day jobs in the business world moonlight as writers and may even contribute to multiple publications on your wish list. 

Utilize Social Media

In addition to researching the reporters’ beats, research the reporter themselves using social media. A reporter is more inclined to keep their Twitter or LinkedIn up-to-date than any other platform or database.

Browsing social media can provide insights into a reporter’s background and can confirm whether they still work at a certain publication. And if it’s a reporter you regularly pitch to, it can be beneficial to “follow” them to stay up-to-date on topics that interest them.

Provide a Rationale

Explaining why each reporter is a fit for your media list is also helpful, both internally and when sharing the list with clients. Provide a rationale for pitching each reporter on the list. This can include a few sentences describing what they cover, past pitching efforts and links to articles similar to the topic you’re pitching.

If you can’t enunciate the reason why a reporter is in your list, take them out.

Quality Over Quantity

Larger lists don’t always mean greater results. The old-school approach to PR is often called the “Spray and Pray” method. This entails mass pitching a story to giant media lists without a clear idea of who exactly might be interested and why. 

Just as when you order a fine meal, keep the concept of “quality over quantity” at top of mind.

Today’s media lists are smaller but more targeted. A list of 40 reporters, who cover precisely what your announcement is about, is far more valuable than a list of 200 business reporters from all beats and interests. A targeted list provides a better opportunity to build and maintain mutually beneficial relationships with the media.

Media lists should always be at the forefront of all PR strategies. Just remember that who you send a message to is as important, if not more so, as the message itself. Picking quality ingredients for your list—and following the proper steps for using them—is key to building and serving up an effective PR campaign.  

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