Creating a more effective media list

Ann Lundquist
Ann Lundquist

Ann Lundquist

Making a list and checking it twice isn’t just for the holidays anymore. Ensuring your media list is a valuable tool for your media-relations success is a year-round effort.

Think you already have an effective media list? Here are a few basics to check right now, and some ideas for creating stronger lists:

Names and titles matter

  • News releases should always be sent to a specific reporter or reporters when possible, rather than the generic, catch-all email addresses you often find in the contact section of websites.
  • One of the most effective ways to learn the name of the best person to receive your news release is to simply call and ask. It is also a good opportunity to introduce yourself, your organization and to talk in advance to create interest about the news release you will be sending.
  • You should also understand how stories are developed and assigned. For example, the producer of a broadcast show is often better to approach than an anchor.

Stay up-to-date

  • Updating your media list is a continuous process. Reporters can change jobs or change their focus at an outlet. New outlets appear and others can go out of business.
  • Add the wide range of outlets-local weeklies, special-interest publications, “shoppers” or trade-association publications. It is sometimes easy to focus only on the major daily or 6 p.m. news broadcast, but coverage in smaller outlets can make a big impact. If you will be targeting a new geographic area, call a colleague to help identify all possible outlets.
  • Many news and feature outlets are now exclusively online. Make sure these are included on your media list.

Tailor and target

  • News about nonprofit organizations appeals to a variety of reporters-news, business, feature and calendar reporters to name a few-but not every news release should go to every reporter.
  • Monitor the top “target outlets” where you would like news coverage. Learn the issues and angles each reporter covers and add them to your media list when you see a good fit. One idea is to create Google alerts for specific reporters to help you track coverage and see who is covering an issue more frequently or in greater depth.
  • Keep track of what you have sent reporters previously, what conversations you have had with them and what coverage you or similar organizations have received from them. There are a variety of media databases available, but you can easily create your own tracking document.

Check this list each time you prepare to send a news release to help get the best results.

Ann Lundquist is a senior project director with Shoestring Creative Group, the nonprofit’s agency. She can be reached at or                    1-888-835-6236.

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