DIY PR Guide: Developing a Media List


The media release is ready and you are excited to get some publicity for your business? So, what’s the next step to DIY PR?

More does not necessarily mean merrier. Not in the development of a media list at least. When it comes to DIY PR and media liaison, the fundamentals must be clear: Not all publicity is created equal. If you think that there is no such thing as bad publicity, or how bad can bad publicity go? Think again.

The purpose of a PR drive is to create positive awareness and buzz. And to do that, there is homework to be done: After crafting the media release, the next step is to create the media list.


Media pitching is not spamming. The last thing anyone wants for their business is for the media or contacts to block their email. We should only know spam as the strangely addictive tinned meat, not a PR tactic.

Developing media list

A media list should be as targeted as possible. The size of the media list should reflect the story angle or related to the industry of the media release, and not vice versa.

It is not possible to create a media release that caters to all media titles. Take for example Brand Inc., when we pitch a story angle, it will likely be about the communications industry since we are a PR agency. However, it could also be on human capital management such as moving up from internship to executive, empowering females and workplace diversity, or an opinion piece about event PR.

The important part here is to segment and identify target media, understand their interests, and finally engage them. Really, it sounds like dating.

Segment and Identify

Just like the rules of dating, set boundaries. Jokes aside, despite how ‘connected’ the world seems to be, all publications and media outlets have their unique set of target audience segmented on bases of geography, demography and psychographics.

Ideally, these characteristics need to be as close a match as possible to the target audience of one’s communication plan. This is especially tricky when the communications strategy or outreach programme involves different regions, cultures and language. The geographical boundaries, language differences, differences in consumption patterns makes it all the more important to be familiar with the different titles and the market they cater to.

An easy start to develop your media list is by scouring through the internet. Read the content from the different portals. Find editors, contributors, writers or journalists in the areas of your media release. Collate a list of these contacts. The internet may not be exhaustive but it is a good place to start.

PRoTIP: For print media, consider subscribing to Magzter. It is the world’s largest digital newsstand. It may not have all titles especially the small independent ones but with access to more than 4000 titles worldwide, it’s a great bargain!

Know Them and Understand Their Interests

Next, like any meaningful relationship, you have to know your partner and understand his or her interest. The media are not emotionless computer algorithms that put words together, they are human.

The list at this stage is still considered incomplete after identifying the ideal titles and publications. Address, general phone line and email for the news desk can be retrieved and verified effortlessly with a Google search or a phone call. However, it is not enough. It is important to know the people you wish to ‘attract’.

Alongside other great contributions such as #mancrushmonday and #foodporn , social media has made stalking a social norm. it much easier to study someone’s interest. Understanding someone’s pet peeves and proclivities helps one in figuring out ways to approach them with a better chance of striking a conversation and subsequently sharing your idea. LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter are great places to stalk start.

PRoTIP: Do put their social media profile in your media list too. That will help you further when it comes to monitoring.

The Engagement (alt. section header: If you like it then you shoulda put a ring on it)

Having briefly explained the amount of work that goes into the preparation of a media list, it is clear that a substantial investment of time is required to keep the contacts organised and updated on a timely basis. For organisations or individuals lacking the necessary human capital, there are alternatives.

Consider subscribing or acquiring database. Some trusted database sites include MuckRack and Contactable. However, always make sure that the database cover your region of interest.

Of course, another way is to work with a trusted PR agency. Not only will an experienced consultancy have the required contacts, their established network and familiarity with the media landscape will also help with liaising and managing the interests of all parties concerned.

PRoTIP: Before embarking on contacts acquisition, always make sure the supplier has complete information so you will not be paying for generic Google results.

In short, creating a media list can be a painstaking feat or it can also be a piece of cake depending on one’s commitment and resources. Regardless, it is an indelible item on the basic PR checklist for successful PR campaigns.