We’ve been talking about manual press release distribution recently — when you directly send your news, in a personalized way, to hand-picked target media outlets rather than relying on a press release distribution service.

But how do you know which journalists to send your news release to?

Before you think about distribution, you’ll want to build a media list.

What is a Media List?

A media list for press release distribution is fairly self-explanatory. It’s a list of members of the media you want to interact with, build relationships with, and land news coverage with.

This will include newspapers, magazines, trade publications, blogs, other online publications, and broadcast media outlets.

What Your Media List Should Include

It’s not enough to know which outlets you should send your news to. Ideally, you’ll want your media list to include the following:

  • Editors’ names (all press releases should be personally addressed to the most relevant editors at a publication)
  • Preferred contact methods (sometimes this information is available on the media outlet’s website; other times you’ll learn from asking the editor or reporter in question or from past experience working with them)
  • A list of interest areas (what they usually cover, and what their audience is interested in)

If you want journalists and bloggers to pick up your story, you need to make it more about them than you. It’s not about you gloating about some accomplishment or promoting your wares. It’s about you sharing a story of interest to a media outlet’s audience. That’s who they serve. Not you.

3 Ways to Build Your Media List

Now that you know the kind of information you’ll want to include in your press release distribution list, how do you build it? Where do you find media contact information?

Here are three options:

  1. Hire a PR firm to assemble a custom media distribution list for you. They may already have media contacts in your specialty area and they may be familiar with outlets you aren’t.
  2. Use a media directory to build your list. You can for premium database access with services like Cision’s, or you can use free directories (though those are more likely to be out of date or not have the kind of detailed contact info you want).
  3. Piece together your own custom media list. You can do this by Googling outlets you know you want to target in order to find editor information and contact preferences. This is workable if your media list will be small, such as only focusing on local outlets. But for a longer list, you’re probably better off paying for database access or hiring someone with database access to put together a custom media list for you.

Once you have your media list, perhaps the most important thing to remember is to keep it up to date. Reporters leave media outlets all the time. Sometimes you’ll want to follow a reporter you have a relationship with to a new outlet. Sometimes not. But the last thing you want to do is be sending your news to former employees instead of those currently responsible for editorial decisions. Their preferences aren’t necessarily the same.

Before you can use your media list, you’ll want a well-written press release to share your story. Get in touch when you’re ready, and I’ll help you write one.

Jennifer Mattern
Jennifer Mattern is a freelance blogger and business writer specializing in helping small businesses and independent and creative professionals. In addition to writing for others for 19 years and having 16 years experience in PR and online marketing, Jenn has been blogging for 14 years and runs several blogs of her own includingAll Freelance Writing, NakedPR, and Kiss My Biz.
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