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Tips for Constructing the Perfect Media Outreach List

Date published: January 30, 2014
Last updated: January 30, 2014

With all the digital noise — Twitter, Facebook, Google+, niche-specific online communities and many more — it can be difficult for a digital PR professional doing media outreach for a client to know where to start. It’s good practice to create a highly targeted list that is in the niche of the content you are trying to pitch. It’s also good practice to find the best contact information and the preferred method of contact for each media outlet.

If you have a media database, you can start there. But how do you organize your database information efficiently? Do you have all the right information? Is there a better way to filter or sort results? How do you find information outside your database?

Here are some tips on constructing your perfect media list:

Starting your search and organizing your info

You can start with a basic search via Cision or any other database you have access to. It’s important to find a contact email and not just a general outlet email from the website. You’re not as likely to get a response from as from an actual editor or writer for the site.

Are you looking for coverage in a certain geographic area? If so, enter the designated area. For your niche, you may be able to put in a general search term, or you may need to select from a drop-down or check box — if so, select what makes the most sense for the type of article or media you are trying to get covered.

Filtering and sorting

You’re likely to return thousands of results. Filters and sorting are your best friends. Use any and all available filters to narrow down your search: media type, topics or a text search for very particular keywords. For example, maybe you’re looking for health websites, but you specifically want one that focuses on yoga. Search for yoga instead of health to narrow down your results.

Need an even narrower focus? An important factor of PR is getting coverage on a site that has a good amount of traffic. Either in your database or an exported Excel spreadsheet, sort traffic or ranking data you have from top to bottom. Ignore sites that don't garner the search volumes that you need.

Remove any columns you don’t need and be sure to include this information in your lists:

  1. Traffic or ranking data
  2. A contact name
  3. A contact email (repeat: not just an outlet email)
  4. Outlet name
  5. Outlet URL

Finding information for people outside your database

If you’re stumped on finding the right email address or contact person, there are ways to find the right information outside of a database. Check the targeted website manually to see if you can find a contact name and accompanying email address. Do they have a Twitter account? It is not uncommon for organizations to give you the email address of the person you're trying to contact if you reach out to them and ask for it. Don't forget to explain why you need to reach this person. If you have a name but no email address, you can also try a basic Google search.

Using Google Alerts, Twialerts & RSS for other opportunites

Just as you can search for contact information outside a database, you can search for new media outreach opportunities as well. You can search in Google with certain keywords or in Google News to see who is writing about what — this will make your pitch a lot more relevant if you make the connection with what you’re trying to get coverage for by reactive pitching in your media Media Outreach email. Or, if you’d like to automate the process and get Google Alerts and Twialerts dumped right into an RSS feed, you can learn how to do that in this post.

To sum up: create a well-refined list that is highly targeted based on outlet topic and any specific keywords. Be sure to include essential information in your list: contact name, contact email, outlet name, URL and any traffic or ranking data you can find. You can also add to your list along the way by conducting searches and creating alerts.

Do you have any media list compilation tips? Share in the comments below.

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