I’ve worked in public relations (PR) for over ten years now. One of the first things I did at my first job was to create a PR contact list, or PR media list if you prefer, so I can keep track of every media outlet, reporter, and journalist that I’m in touch with or that I want to be in touch with.
Over the years, using a simple spreadsheet template for my media list has helped me stay organized and build long-lasting relationships with important media contacts.
In this article, I’ll share more about what a media list is in PR, how to set one up (with my exact media list template), how to build it out, and then keep it up to date.
What is a media list?
A media list is a spreadsheet with all the contact information for media outlets and reporters you are working with or want to work with.
It can be very custom — for example, I always keep a Twitter profile for each reporter, as Twitter lists are something I leverage in PR. You might have other important information you want to include.
Broadly, a media list should include the contact’s name, the outlet they work at, their email address, their beat, the date you last contacted them, and a link to their author profile.
This one list will be immensely useful in things as simple as remembering email addresses instead of needing to dig for them every time, but also by finding reporters based on their beat for a particular story. Ultimately, I’ve found keeping this list helps me do my job more quickly.
How to set up a media list in PR
There are a lot of tools that will help you build a PR contact list — and I personally would not recommend any of them for keeping your full list. You can use them to build that list out (we’ll talk about that later) but you should keep a copy of your list in a tool that you own where access can’t get cut off spontaneously or a feature change might impact how you have it organized.
I set up my list years ago in Google Sheets, so I’ve just kept Google Sheets as my tool of choice. If I were rebuilding my list today, I would potentially try using a tool like Notion or Airtable instead, as I know they both have a great feature set that can let you work even more efficiently.
Whenever I have built a media list from scratch, I’ve started with a really simple spreadsheet and then over time, I’ve added more columns depending on the information about a reporter or media outlet most important to me.
Here are the basic columns I’d recommend having:
- Covered before?
- Last emailed
- Author profile
My media list template
Instead of recreating this yourself, you’re welcome to head to this media list template in Google Sheets and make a copy for yourself.
Here’s what it looks like:
How to build out a media list
Once you have a spreadsheet set up, it’s time to start adding media contacts. 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. A great place to look is articles you come across 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.
I end up adding to this list every time a new reporter reaches out to me, or every time we’re launching something and I’m doing research into whether it might be a good fit at a certain outlet. I also update the “last contacted” column every time I email a reporter.
You’ll find that your media contacts might move outlets or change jobs so make sure to keep it up to date if you spot someone has moved from The New York Times to BBC for example.
This is a super simple way that I keep organized, I hope it’s a bit helpful to you and your PR efforts! Let me know if I can help clarify anything in the comments or on Twitter.
Next up: Read about the public relations formula I used to calculate reach on each of my press mentions.
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