How to Grow Your Media List

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Once you’ve developed your plan, the next step in executing a successful PR campaign is identifying the right people to reach out to about your latest project or campaign. Of course every business wants to see their product or brand on The Today Show or named as one of Oprah’s Favorite Things, but there are literally thousands of media outlets out there that could be a potential fit for your brand. From a media perspective, brands are the most often relevant to publications based on geographical proximity or how well a brand fits the reader’s aesthetic. A Los Angeles-based publication, for example, will be more interested in a local designer than one from New York. Most PR professionals will tell you to start with local, then regional, then national coverage. This is a good general rule, but with so many digital outlets it’s no longer so cut and dry.

No matter your approach, don’t make the mistake of undervaluing local media. Local newspapers, television morning shows, magazines and radio stations appreciate human interest stories and supporting local businesses. And, unlike the national publications, staff are typically more accessible. A bit of outreach to your local media, alma mater or birthplace can result in media clippings that look great in a press portfolio, and you may find your local audience to be some of your biggest supporters.

With so many traditional print magazines building out their digital opportunities, it may be easier to begin by reaching out to online editors. The web presence is typically looking to fill more space, as they are competing with publications and blogs that release multiple stories each day. It varies how closely the web and editorial teams work together, so keep that in mind when reaching out.

Make Media Research Fun

Take an afternoon and spend it at your local bookstore or favorite newsstand. Immerse yourself in your industry’s section. Yes, this is work!

Instead of merely flipping through and reading what interests you, put on your PR hat. Examine the different kinds of articles being written. Then ask yourself a few key questions, like: • What headlines catch your eye? • How is the information organized? • What writers are writing what recurring features? • What are the price points?

The goal of this exercise is to learn from what the publications on your radar are already doing and incorporate those learnings and awareness into your research.

Develop a Media List

In the world of media, editors assign stories to writers, staff or freelance, while a producer is responsible for deciding on the news and radio stories you hear each day. When putting together a list or figuring out who to pitch, you want to make sure to get contact information for the right media professional.

For example, you want to reach out to the fashion editor or features editor rather than the publisher or editor-in-chief. Of course, if you are a beauty brand, connect with the beauty editor, a health brand, the health or fitness editor, and so on. It’s important to do your due diligence, even when you have an editor’s title, because some editors have very specialized beats. A magazine might have two health editors, one responsible for nutrition and another for apparel or trends.

If you haven’t already guessed, a media list is simply a list of contact information—journalists, editors, bloggers, and television producers. These days, many writers are freelancers without official magazine email addresses, so it’s worth a shot to search for email addresses on Google or try a firstnamelastname Gmail send off. You just might get lucky!

You can purchase a media list through paid service, work with a PR agency that will reach out to media on your behalf, or do your own research. If you do decide to create your own list, you can try to find email addresses by crafting a pitch and then sending it to several different common nomenclatures and seeing which ones bounce back.

Or, find an email address for the advertising department, whose contacts are easier to come by, to figure out the proper email format. Then, find the byline of a writer who recently wrote a piece that fits with your brand, and send off that pitch!

Pay attention to out of office replies as well, as these often include an alternate contact. These days, many writers are freelancers without official magazine email addresses. Also, many writers and editors list their emails on their Twitter profiles. You can also try to connect via LinkedIn.

Once you begin to reach out to the media, keep track of any useful bits of information, like the mention of a pregnancy, favorite vacation spot, or birthday. Your media list should contain contact information as well as a section for notes.

As your brand gains momentum, you will start to receive inquiries directly from media that are interested in your collection. When you do, make sure to add in their information to your list.

Curious about what a typical media list might look like? Feel free to use this template as is or customize it to suit your specific PR needs.

Have you identified your target media contacts? If not, what’s holding you back?

Oh, did you say you wanted more help building that master media list or brilliant PR plan of yours? Well, you should probably check out The Buzz: A Media Darling’s Guide to Press Coverage and get on the wait list for Hearsay’s soon-to-be-launched PR mastermind group.