Improving conversion through content & keyword relevancy

25 Tips on How to Build a Better Media List

Want to breathe a little magic into your PR results? Put some of these best practices into play for building your media lists – and using them to maximum benefit.


Public relations is not easy – there’s a reason it is one of the most stressful jobs in the nation – and there are very few shortcuts… especially when it comes to building a media database. Speaking as someone who has been in the industry for almost 25 years – many public relations professionals build their lists wrong, even at the agency level. (tweet this)

Done correctly, this takes several days, and dozens of hours. There aren’t any shortcuts, but THERE ARE ways to build them in a way that brings better results.


  1. Use media databases (like Cision or FinderBinder) as a starting point, not the only resource
  2. Most media lists do not include the correct contacts – go deeper than the editor
  3. Understand differences in editorial titles – pub size influences meaning
  4. Your list is outdated as soon as you save it to your computer, so update constantly
  5. When your list is done, go out and build it again using social media
  6. Don’t just add Twitter handles to your list – build lists specific to an industry or client, and monitor closely
  7. Look at each journalists entire social presence to find where the opportunities/conversations are for them as an individual
  8. Monitor your targeted journalists using Twitter Lists
  9. Know what interests a journalist AT THAT moment, then pitch
  10. Use Google to fill gaps – trade associations, small pubs not listed, etc.
  11. Use Google Alerts to find reporters covering similar stories, then add them to your list
  12. Notice newsstands at grocery stores, convenience stores, etc. – pick up copies from different areas of town
  13. Read their publication at least a few times
  14. Bloggers are different – don’t ever send press releases
  15. Bloggers write for free – they usually could care less about pitches, PR people and story ideas
  16. eZines are different than bloggers – greater need for content, guest posts more welcome
  17. Take time to learn about the pub, research the right reporters/editors
  18. Use contacts to pitch, not mass blast
  19. Start conversations, BE RELEVANT – contacting them in person keeps you on top of their beats, and their story requests
  20. Media relations is about the relationship, not the list – act accordingly
  21. Bad pitching burns bridges, so take time to do it right
  22. You can pull many story angles from one idea – be creative
  23. Repurposing content does not mean plagiarizing. Rewrite it from a different angle.
  24. Understand which online pubs are news feeds versus news reporting. News feeds are fine for blast releases.
  25. Never give your media lists to clients. They are paying for your expertise and connections, don’t give that away.

To learn more about building media lists and using them to pitch, be sure to check out these fantastic articles:

HAVE MORE IDEAS TO ADD? Speak up and leave a comment!

These tips were part of December’s #PhxPR Twitter chat, held on first Thursday’s at noon. A shout-out to Abbie Fink at HMA for co-moderating! To see the full transcript, head over to the chat page on my website.


Connect with me to chat about this topic: