An Intern’s Guide to Media Lists
Soon after I started my internship at Caster, I realized that all the communications and public relations classes I’d taken didn’t teach me everything that I would come across in a real-world environment. Here I was introduced to new types of projects and industry resources, and one thing I’ve done a lot is create media lists. I didn’t know anything about media lists before being an intern at Caster, and I had never learned how to put one together. My first instinct about media lists was that they were Word documents you created with media sources that pertained to the topic at hand. I had no idea how detailed they needed to be and how much useful information you could actually find. Luckily for me I have a great team that eased me into this process and taught me how to correctly put one together.
Media lists are a compilation of names, information and sources that are applicable to campaigns and outreach for media pitching. These names include specific journalists and outlets who have written or currently write about the topic you want to pitch. For example, if you’re looking for coverage about a new tech gadget your client has released, you may want to pitch to those who write for TechCrunch or Engadget, or who covered a similar product in the past. The media list will usually consist of the name of a journalist, outlet they write for, email or contact information, Twitter handle and a link to something relevant they’ve written. It has taken me a little while to figure out which targets are good for a certain pitch and should be added to a list. I’ve learned that you want your target to post regularly about the topic you are pitching. If they have only posted about a certain topic once, you’re better off finding something else. If your target has a large following and is a respected outlet in the industry you are working in, that is also a good sign.
An important key to compiling a good media list is making sure that all of the information you use is up-to-date. Be sure that the journalist you include is still working for the outlet and writing about topics that are in your area of interest. Another important detail to watch out for is the journalists’ email address, since addresses that are email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org are just for general use and are ineffective for pitching. A resource that we use to find this information is Meltwater, which has a search function where you can look for a journalists. If they are in the system, Meltwater provides you with updated information for that journalist. If someone you are looking for is not in Meltwater you must search through the web. I suggest Googling their name and checking Twitter, LinkedIn and their personal sites for contact information.
Media lists are a crucial part of pitching to help your clients to get coverage. As I keep working on media lists, I become better and better. It has become a lot easier for me to spot good targets and I have even begun to recognize big names in the tech-writing business. It’s a great feeling knowing that your research is being used in an effective way to help get client coverage. Keep in mind the tips and tricks I shared above from my personal experience and let me know what you think by connecting with me on Twitter @AliCerasuolo!