What is a media list and how to craft one?

To sum it up to its simplest facet, a PR’s main objective is to secure media coverage for their clients. Whether to convey key messaging or designed to  increase brand awareness with the right audiences, or even used strategically to generate back links to key content on a client’s website, the success of PR outreach that secures coverage is often in the preparation behind the scenes, not just the proof in the pudding of the end result.

To do this, PRs must formulate creative pitches, compelling stories, and exciting angles. But all of that is useless if they haven’t also dedicated time to developing a highly targeted media list of key contacts who will be interested in the content or hook being shared.

But what is a media list is, why is it important and how should PR’s approach creating one that will aid in securing coverage in key media spaces?

What is a Media List?

A media list is a curated database of contacts including journalists, editors, bloggers, influencers, and other media professionals. A media list allows PRs to facilitate efficient and effective communication with people who can share a client’s news, stories, and messages with a wider audience.

A good media list will include individuals that are relevant to your industry or niche; and lists should be updated regularly and segmented to keep up with the fast pace of modern media and their movements.

Most media lists will include:

  • First and last name of a contact
  • The outlet that they work for
  • Job title
  • Contact details
  • Social media handles
  • Extra notes on their specialism or beat


Crafting a Media List

Building an effective PR media list is a process that requires research, organisation, and continuous maintenance. Here’s how to create one:

  1. Define Your Target Audience: Start by clearly identifying your target audience. Understanding your audience helps in selecting the most relevant media contacts to include in your list. Consider demographics, interests, and where and how they consume their editorial content.
  2. Identify Relevant Media Outlets: Research media outlets, publications, blogs, and websites that cater to your audience. Look for those that cover topics related to your industry and consider which ones are covering your competitors.
  3. Compile a List of Key Contacts: Within each media outlet, identify key contacts such as editors, journalists, and freelance writers who are responsible for covering stories relevant in your field. Check their bylines and social media profiles for extra insights into their personal interests, and professional beat. Knowing those small details could be what wins you the coverage and helps to build up trusted relationships with relevant contacts.
  4. Utilise Media Databases To Be GDPR Compliant: There are several media database tools available to PR’s with varying costs attached, such as Roxhill, Cision, and Muck Rack. These tools act as a database that can help a PR identify and organise media contacts into lists, and even outreach to them, all within the same platform. These tools provide information on journalists, their beats, and contact details which can be curated into handy online lists. They also provide PR’s with access to the latest journalist movements and requests for information, so media lists and other outreach can be tailored accordingly.
  5. Organise Your Data: You may wish to export your lists as a spreadsheet to organise your media lists offline. Tools such as those mentioned above give PR’s the ability to do this and PR’s can choose to include columns for the contact’s name, outlet, email, phone number, social media profiles, and any relevant notes about their preferences or previous coverage. Remember to add to this as you learn more about your contacts in order to better tailor pitches. If downloading lists for outreach outside of a paid for tool, make sure they are stored in a GDPR friendly way on a secure system, or with password protection.
  6. Regularly Update Your List: The media landscape is constantly evolving. Journalists change beats, outlets, and even jobs. Keep your list up to date by regularly verifying and updating the contact information. The worst thing a PR can do is spam a journalist – so it is crucial for a PR to know who is on their list, and be able to justify why. Segmented and refined lists often hold the most power. Remember, effective media lists won’t be hundreds of contacts long!
  7. Craft Personalised Pitches: Now you’ve got a refined media list, when reaching out to media contacts, personalise your communication. Reference their previous work, express your genuine interest in their coverage and suggest angles or hooks that are relevant to them. Generic mass emails are less likely to yield results. And remember, if you are pitching a particular publication with a headline or story idea – its wise to format your email in a similar style and language to the outlet itself. This will show you’ve done your research, and avoids feeling like you are trying to shoehorn in the exact same story with your top media targets.


Why should you build a media list?

A well-crafted media list is a valuable tool for any public relations professional or business looking to get their message out there. By identifying the right contacts, organising your data in a GDPR compliant way, and developing those relationships with highly refined media targets, you can significantly boost your chances of scoring successful media coverage and brand exposure.

Remember that building a media list is an ongoing process. Stay informed about changes in the media landscape and adapt your list accordingly, making sure to review it for relevance before each wave of outreach, whether that be a press release or themed mailer.

Nail your media list and over time, your relationships with journalists will strengthen, leading to more opportunities for your brand’s news items to grab the spotlight.

Looking for support with media relations? Contact our PR team: [email protected] 


Beth Jacobs.

Account Executive