Working in public relations means that every single work day, I’m looking at my media list. This is a habit I’ve cultivated over the years that I that truly believe helps me advance in my role.
Quickly, here’s how I define a media list:
A media list is a spreadsheet with all of the names, outlets and contact info for reporters you are working with, or want to work with.
Over the years, keeping a list of relevant media contacts for each company I work at has helped me with a few things, including:
- Remembering email addresses instead of digging for them every time
- Organizing reporters by their beat so I can make sure I’m pitching them correctly
- Tracking the last time I was in touch with a reporter so I know if it’s been enough time to pitch again or if it’s too soon
- Tracking which reporters have written about us before
- Being able to do my job more quickly and easily because I can scan for reporters who write about a particular topic
Now, I know there are several tools that might keep a list for you, like Cision or Trendkite, but I would never recommend keeping your entire media list in those tools unless you’re positive you’ll keep that tool. This is the same reason I recommend keeping an email list instead of trusting social media to reach your audience.
Setting Up a Media List
Here’s what a very simple starter spreadsheet might look like:
Back when I worked at Fluidware (acquired by Survey Monkey) the spreadsheet I used was organized in tabs for local media, which was anyone in Ottawa, national/international media and finally online media. Since then, I’ve used different systems.
When I was at Getaround, we organized the spreadsheet by the city, so Portland, D.C., San Francisco and Chicago and it worked well for us then!
Now at Buffer, instead of having multiple tabs, I’ve just expanded my columns to add more descriptors.
I usually start with a really simple spreadsheet and then add more columns depending on what pops up. Here are all the columns I have in my media list at Buffer right now:
- Covered before?
- Last emailed
- Author Profile
Building a Media List
Time to start filling in all those columns you just set up. An easy place to start is with reporters who have already covered you, you likely have their emails and contact info and can immediately mark them down as warm contacts. Next up, start thinking about reporters that you’d like to cover you. Check out author profiles and Twitter profiles to gather a bit more info.
Keeping It Up To Date
I update my list at minimum a couple of times a week. Every time we have a new campaign or get a press mention, I’m adding someone new to the list. I also update it every time I email a reporter.
Another great place to look is when you come across an article that could have featured your company, or would be a similar story you see yourself pitching at some point – remember those reporters because maybe there’s a good fit down the line.
This is a super simple way that I keep organized, hope it’s a bit helpful to you and your PR efforts! If I can help clarify anything, let me know in the comments or on Twitter.
You can also sign up for my monthly newsletter to learn what I’m reading, recording, and writing.