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Creating the Ultimate Media List

Earning media features and building a press portfolio is a powerful way to promote your industry knowledge, reach new clients, and even get the added SEO benefits of backlinks. However, public relations should always be considered a strategic endeavor — a scattershot approach can quickly become a waste of time and resources with little to show.

A key component of public relations is a media list, which compiles the publications you’re interested in pitching and gives you a database of information to work from. The best media lists are targeted, detailed, and well-planned — thus, it does take time to set up properly. Fortunately, I’m here to walk you through the four steps to curating the ultimate media list to help you reach your PR goals.

Define your goals.

A media list will only be effective if you take the time to properly research chosen outlets and understand the purpose behind your pitch plan. Start by identifying your ideal client — in a perfect world, who would you want to work with?

Get specific to understand who they are, where they consume media, level of education, employment status, annual income level, and so on. Consider their habits — are they subscribers to the local newspaper or are they getting their news from Twitter on their commute to work? What are their favorite blogs? Who are they following on Instagram?

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All of these behavioral aspects of your ideal client will help you to hone in on the right publications to connect with them. Your time and resources are limited, so it does you no good to craft pitches to media outlets that do not put you in front of your target market.

Determine your messaging approach.

The way you craft your message will determine how successful you are in reaching your goals. Think about what you want your ideal client to know about your business — and how will that knowledge help them in the long run? What solution can you provide to meet their needs?

When you have a better idea of what you want to communicate, you can start to think about the how. Are you inclined to share advice about a specific topic? Is your message better suited to share through imagery of your beautiful designs? Are you knowledgeable about a recent news headline and looking to shed light on it? Consider where your expertise meets your prospective clients’ needs — that’s where you want to dig in.

Map out your media outlets.

With your goals and messaging down pat, it’s time to plan out your strategy for pitching. The idea here is to get picky. You don’t need to pitch yourself to any and every industry magazine that exists; in fact, you probably shouldn’t. Go back to your target audience and get specific with publications that will put you in front of them.

If you want to grow your corporate client base, pivot away from your standard wedding blogs. If you’re considering expanding into coaching services, start focusing on B2B industry publications. Let your ideal client guide your direction. If you’re having trouble nailing down the right outlets, don’t be afraid to ask current, past, or even ideal clients about their habits.

Prioritize organization.

So, you have your list of media outlets and perhaps a few pitch ideas. In order to maximize the efficiency and efficacy of your PR push, you need to create an organized database that will streamline your pitching efforts down the line. Take some time to gather contact information for each lead and compile the information into a spreadsheet.

Things you’ll want to collect include the publication name and website, the name and email address for a point of contact, submission requirements, and any known deadlines or editorial themes to keep in mind.

This may sound like a time-consuming process, but rest assured that it is the best way to achieve success in reaching your media goals. The upfront time it takes to prepare and curate a well-planned media list will pay you back tenfold when your pitching process is organized, streamlined, and detailed from here on out.

Meghan Ely

President, OFD Consulting, Richmond, VA

Meghan Ely is the owner of wedding PR and wedding marketing firm OFD Consulting. Ely is a sought-after speaker, adjunct professor in the field of public relations, and a self-professed royal wedding enthusiast. 

Photo: Melody Smith Portraits