So, you’ve written the perfect press release. It has all the right messages and bits of crucial information listing the key points about the product or service you’re representing. But the next bit is equally crucial: identifying the journalists to send the message across to your target audience. 

These journalists are the gatekeepers who will determine if your pitch is worth their—and their audiences’—time.

The problem is finding the right person and publication to lend a credible voice to your brand. Some may try to circumvent this by shooting out mass emails (with email addresses in BCC) and hoping that something comes back.

However, this isn’t an effective method. For one, your email could lay forgotten in the abyss of the journalist’s junk folder. On the other hand, jaded media influencers might just skip over such generic emails presuming that it may already be irrelevant to their work or beats.

Perhaps the most important thing that’s lost in this haphazard ‘spamming’ is the opportunity to establish a relationship between you and the journalist, which should be the main goal of any public relations professional.

This is why creating a concise media list is an essential part of PR work. Putting together a specific list of contacts may be tedious, but this will come in handy when crafting personalised messages and unique pitches. While doing this manually is time-consuming, finding the right contacts could just become breezy work with the right tools. Here are some tips on creating an appropriate media contact list for your press releases.


1) Think about your audience…

Before putting your media list together, consider who your target audience is. Narrowing your target audience down allows you to be more accurate in your outreach efforts. Besides considering the demographics of these groups, you should also evaluate how they would search for information, which sources they trust the most or what content they are most interested in. Knowing these details will help you in your search for the right people to reach out to.


2) … and the right journalists falls in place

It is important to note that quality trumps quantity when it comes to media coverage, which makes finding the right journalists so important. 

A mention of a supercar on a teen magazine might still count as coverage, but this doesn’t mean much to the brand. While reaching out to a niche group of publications that focus on luxury vehicles may result in smaller coverage, this is more reflective of their audiences’ impression of the brand and its ideas. 

However, after a quick evaluation of your audience, you may already have a brief idea of who you should be targeting. 

Traditionally, one would be scouring through the local bookshops and magazine kiosks, flipping through publications for editorial contacts. The process has long surpassed this step. Online publications and social media influencers are also becoming increasingly powerful sources of information.

Meltwater’s Influencer Contact Database allows you to look for journalist contacts in a much quicker and more efficient manner. Users can search for journalists by beats, location, and publication and even skim it down further. They can also curate lists of contacts from this database for easy reference.

However, journalists are no longer just limited to doing a single beat. Additionally, freelancers (who are also tackling multiple topics) are becoming more prominent in the industry. In this increasingly complicated media landscape, Meltwater offers a powerful tool: a keyword search function powered by Natural Language Processing (NLP). With this tool, you can look for relevant journalists who have written about the specific topics that you’ve searched for — a more comprehensive approach than searching for beats.


3) How relevant are they?

So far, you just have contacts. You’ll need to delve deeper to find out if these journalists might still be relevant to you and vice versa. Meltwater’s Influencer Contact Database allows users to not just look up contacts, but to also browse recent stories written by said journalist in real-time. Are they still writing about these topics? Have they been keeping up with relevant issues? 

This general overview allows you to predict who might better respond to your press releases and pitches. Furthermore, it gives you a quick look at the types of stories or angles each journalist goes for. Knowing this can help you further refine and align your pitches to suit specific journalists, increasing your chances of success. 


4) Consider their reach

Journalists aren’t just writers. Some have established themselves as key opinion leaders, and are influential in their own right. It is likely that their words hold more weight than a casual blogger or an inexperienced writer. 

Take for example the coverage that you may find on a fine-dining restaurant. A cafe-hopper or fashion-forward influencer may not be as astute about gourmet dining. A seasoned food journalist would be able to point out why you should check out the latest fine-dining establishment in town. 

It would also be advantageous to consider the reach of various platforms to prioritise or further trim your media list. A good way to gauge this is by sussing out the engagement on social media pages by magazines and influencers. If you have limited resources, this is one way to maximise your efforts.


5) Don’t reuse your media lists

Each media campaign is different, so don’t always reuse your media lists. You might be pitching stories for the same client, but those stories could be better suited to a new target audience. While it is tempting to just use your master list again, think about who you might want to add in or weed out. Going through your list may also help you to figure out who your client’s biggest supporters are. These are the people you’ll want to maintain relationships with as well.


6) What are your competitors doing?

Are they marketing something similar? Are they reaching out to an audience you may have missed out on your media list? Take note if you’ve left out a few key individuals. You can do this by monitoring who your competitors are reaching out to: check out recent news stories and social media posts that mention them. Meltwater’s Media monitoring tool helps with this too by allowing you to compare news and social media mentions with that of your competitors through customised dashboards.

7) Always refresh your list

Journalists — especially freelance journalists—may write for many different publications. Keep an eye on where they are and who they write for. Some PR agencies refresh their list once a year, but doing so every three months is a wiser move (one can never be too careful!). But not to worry, Meltwater’s journalist database is constantly updated and you can always revise and refer to previous lists.

Thankfully, with databases ready at hand, putting together a media list is significantly more efficient than before. Give your press release the right attention, and you’ll find the right results for your brand coming through.