Personalization: Customize Your Media List is Key to PR Outreach

A personalized media list shows journalists that you value their work and have taken the time to understand their reporting.

Why is this important?

  1. Building positive relationships with journalists is vital to successful media outreach. It increases the likelihood that they will engage with your pitches and consider writing a story.
  2. When you demonstrate that you respect a journalist’s expertise and understand their areas of interest, they are more likely to view you as a valuable source of information and seek you out for future stories. This can lead to ongoing coverage opportunities and increased brand exposure.

By the numbers:

  1. 72% of PR pros say creating and updating media lists is their most time-consuming task (Muck Rack)
  2. 83% of PR pros believe building relationships with journalists is the most important part of their job. Building targeted media lists is a vital part of that process. (Cision)
  3. 53% of PR pros use social media research and create media lists. (PR News)
  4. 64% of PR professionals say they spend more than two hours researching and pitching to the media. Building and maintaining media lists is a crucial part of this process. (PR Week)
  5. 90% of journalists say that receiving personalized pitches is important to them. This underscores the importance of building targeted media lists considering individual journalists’ interests and needs. (Agility PR Solutions)

The saying goes, “It’s not what you know, but who you know,” – and this rings true when you pitch the media. Of course, maintaining solid relationships with the media is smart, but how can you ensure you’re targeting the right journalist based on the story you want to tell?

This is where the power of the media list comes in. Think of it as Google Maps, guiding you toward the media outlets and journalists most likely to be interested in your story.

PR is vital to all communication strategies for brands seeking to build and maintain their reputation. Media relationships should always be a top priority.

What is a Media List?

Sounds basic, I know. It’s a list of journalists’ contact information.

A media list is a database (or Excel document) of journalists and media outlets you have identified as influential to your business. This PR media list should be fluid and updated with new journalists and reporters as often as needed. There are several reasons why having a focused media outlet list is important for PR outreach. Here are three:

A media list will help you focus your PR outreach. By identifying the journalists and reporters that cover relevant topics, you can personalize your pitches to each journalist’s specific needs and interests. This will increase the likelihood that the journalist will a) open the email, 2) show interest in your pitch, 3) write a story about it, or 4) ask for a quote.

A media list is good for tracking. By monitoring your media coverage or general stories published about your industry, you can identify trends, anticipate potential issues, and adjust your media outreach strategies accordingly. This will help you stay ahead of the curve and be more responsive to the dynamic media landscape.

A media list helps to maintain relationships with journalists. An updated media list can be helpful when breaking news happens, a journalist shifts editorial priorities, or joins a new beat. You can maintain a competitive edge with your PR outreach by staying abreast of these changes.

Although an updated media list is beneficial, there are also challenges to keeping it up-to-date. It can be difficult to manage with so many journalists and media outlets. Additionally, journalists’ interests and priorities change rapidly due to the fast-paced nature of the media industry, requiring constant vigilance and adaptability.

Before Anything, Research Your Target Audience

Media lists should contain the contact information of journalists and media outlets who cover a specific topic or industry. However, it’s mandatory to identify and research the top journalists before you build it.

There are a few ways to think about your target audience. It’s either the people who will buy your product, the people who influence your buyers to buy it, investors, stakeholders, and NGOs.

Knowing your target audience is critical to crafting a storyline that will resonate. A story that resonates drives action. An action could be a like, comment, share, or purchase. Additionally, identifying your target audience helps you select the appropriate journalists for your media list.

For smaller companies, a Google search or ChatGPT can help find insights about your audience and what media outlets they’re reading. However, enterprise brands invest in more considerable audience analysis to map affinities, content, and media sharing.

For instance, let’s say you’re promoting a new skincare line that caters to women aged 18-35. Your target audience would be older Gen Zers and younger Millennial women interested in beauty and skincare. With this baseline knowledge, you can pitch the media targeting this demographic or creators specializing in beauty and skincare.

Knowing your target audience also enables you to tailor your message to their interests and needs. For example, if you’re promoting a new workout app, your message to older adults might emphasize the health benefits of exercise. In comparison, your message to younger adults might highlight the convenience of working out at home.

Furthermore, identifying your target audience first helps you avoid wasting time and resources on media outreach that is unlikely to succeed.

Using Qualitative Methods to Create Media Lists

When building a media list, it is important to use data and research. When that’s not possible, there are other things you can do to provide a tad more rigor in your approach. Once you’ve defined your audience(s), be sure to do the following:

  1. Consider the type of media: There are different types of media–print, online, radio, and television. Even within those different media types, there are sub-segments like podcasts, newsletters, Youtube-only, etc.
  2. Research the media: Once you have determined the media type, you can start researching the outlets. You can use search engines, industry directories, and social media to find the most appropriate media. I’ve experimented with ChatGPT and and am impressed with the results.
  3. Check for relevance: Once you have your shortlist, you’ll have to review the coverage and check for relevancy manually.
  4. Verify contact information: The next step is to verify the contact information for the journalists, editors, reporters, or producers. This should include email contact info, phone numbers, links to newsletters (i.e., Substack), and social media handles.
  5. Document pitching preferences: Every outlet is different and may have unique preferences for receiving pitches. For example, some journalists prefer to be contacted via email, while others are open to DMs on Twitter. This is an important data point on your media outlet list. The last thing you want to happen is a journalist calling you out publicly for not doing your homework. Unfortunately, it happens all the time.

Even if you have data and research teams at your disposal, these are smart things to do regardless of what you have access to.

Media list example of using data to inform a smarter approach

Integrate Data to Create a Media Outlet List

Here are some ways you might use data to build a media list:

  • Analyze target audience groups: Using audience analytics software like Audiense or Brandwatc, you can build highly targeted and unique audiences based on age, gender, location, job profession, how they define themselves in their bio, and what they talk about on social media.
  • Track media coverage and engagement: Using media monitoring software, you can analyze topical coverage, extract trending narratives, and identify new journalists and media outlets.
  • Map audiences and journalist engagement: Using data analysis and network mapping, you can identify shared connections between journalists, editors, creators, and producers you want to pitch to. This can help you find other ways to distribute your story into the news cycle.
  • Measure journalist’ influence: Measuring the influencer of journalists, creators, and editors can help you prioritize your PR outreach with data to back it up. 
  • Monitor social media conversations: Social media monitoring can help you identify the journalists, editors, or producers most active on social media. You can also analyze their conversations, track their audiences, and measure the performance of the content they produce. 

By using data to build a media list, you can make more informed decisions about which media outlets and contacts to target, increase the chances of success, and build long-lasting relationships that can benefit your brand or message in the long term.

Words and advice are good. But let me show you how to start building a media list correctly.

Media List Examples

Below is one way to identify the most influential journalists to add to your media list. The data is visualized using three different data points.

  1. The x-axis is the volume of articles they published during the time frame. This could be a total of published articles or articles about a specific topic like fashion, travel, ChatGPT, etc.
  2. The y-axis is the engagement of the articles published (all articles or topical.)
  3. The bubble size represents the size of the journalist’s audience across their personal social media handles.

With this data, you can make smarter decisions about who you add to your media list, how you might prioritize your pitching, and more.

Hover over each of the bubbles to see the data. Note: These are not real people. The data isn’t real.

Maintaining Your Media List Over Time

The key to any successful media outreach is maintaining your media list. As the news cycle evolves, so should your list and approach. This will help you understand which journalists are most active on certain topics, who cover s specific beats, and who might be the best people to engage with.

Maintaining your media list will also help you identify journalists to re-engage with and new contacts or outlets that could benefit from your story. Keep track of past conversations and any successes, declines, or neutral responses – this information can be invaluable when planning future outreach campaigns.

Mastering PR Outreach

PR outreach is a strategic approach where brands connect with influential media outlets, reporters, and industry leaders. These connections serve as a conduit for delivering the brand’s message to the broader audience. When done right, PR outreach can help brands bolster their image, gain visibility, and, ultimately, earn the trust of their audience.

Moving ahead, the essence of PR outreach lies in crafting compelling messages. It’s an art that combines creativity and an understanding of audience psychology. It’s not just about what brands have to say but how they say it.

This process can be thought of as the science of persuasive messaging. It involves creating messages that resonate with the audience, sparking interest and stirring emotions. It’s about hitting the right notes that connect the audience with the brand on a deeper level.

However, it’s also important to be aware of common pitfalls in PR messaging. For example, overpromising, lack of clarity, or being insensitive to social issues can be detrimental. Thus, brands must tread carefully and ensure their messages align with their audience’s expectations and societal norms.

The journey of PR outreach isn’t always smooth sailing. There are potential hurdles brands must anticipate. For example, unforeseen circumstances or negative press can pose significant challenges. It’s here that a well-developed crisis management plan comes into play. It’s an essential component in the PR toolkit, allowing companies to quickly respond to and recover from crises, thereby preserving their reputation.

Looking ahead, the landscape of PR outreach continues to evolve. One significant trend on the horizon is the rise of AI in public relations. As technology advances, AI’s role in PR will expand from automating mundane tasks to providing insightful data analysis and personalized messaging.

While the advent of AI brings new opportunities, it also calls for marketers to prepare for the future of PR outreach. This preparation involves staying abreast of technological advancements, adapting to changing consumer behaviors, and being ready to embrace new strategies.

Mastering PR outreach is an ongoing journey. It involves understanding the basics, crafting compelling messages, overcoming challenges, and preparing for the future. However, with diligence and strategic planning, brands can harness the power of PR outreach to effectively communicate their story and make a lasting impression on their audience.


Q. What is PR Outreach?
A. PR Outreach refers to the strategic process of connecting with influencers, journalists, and other relevant media professionals. The goal is spreading the word about a brand’s products, services, or initiatives, enhancing its public image and reputation.

Q. Why is PR Outreach important for brands?
A. PR Outreach is a critical component of a brand’s communication strategy. It helps build relationships with key industry influencers and media outlets, increasing visibility, credibility, and customer trust.

Q. How does PR Outreach differ from traditional advertising?
A. PR Outreach focuses on third-party endorsements, Unlike traditional advertising, which is often perceived as self-promotional. Instead, it’s about earning media coverage through compelling stories and news, which can be more persuasive and credible to the audience.

Q. What are the critical elements of a successful PR Outreach strategy?
A. A successful PR Outreach strategy involves identifying the right influencers and media outlets, crafting compelling stories that align with their interests, and maintaining ongoing relationships. It’s also crucial to measure the outcomes to refine the approach.

Q. How can companies identify the right influencers for PR Outreach?
A. Companies should consider the influencers’ relevance to their industry, audience size and engagement level, and reputation. It’s not just about reaching a large audience but reaching the right audience.

Q. How can marketers measure the success of PR Outreach?
A. Success can be measured through various metrics such as the amount of earned media coverage, the quality of that coverage, the reach and engagement of the audience, and the impact on brand reputation.

Q. What are some common challenges in PR Outreach?
A. Common challenges include identifying the right influencers, crafting compelling stories that resonate with them, and maintaining their interest over time. It can also be challenging to measure the impact of PR Outreach accurately.

Q. How can PR Outreach contribute to a brand’s overall marketing strategy?
A. PR Outreach can complement other marketing efforts by increasing brand visibility and credibility. It can also help shape the brand’s narrative and manage its reputation, which is crucial in today’s competitive marketplace.

Q. Can PR Outreach be done in-house, or should it be outsourced?
A. Both options have their pros and cons. In-house teams deeply understand the brand but may lack the necessary relationships with influencers and media outlets. Outsourcing to a PR agency can provide access to these relationships but may be more costly.

Q. What are some best practices for PR Outreach?
A. Best practices include researching and understanding the influencers’ interests, crafting personalized pitches, following up appropriately, and maintaining relationships even when there’s no immediate news to share. It’s about building long-term relationships based on mutual benefit.

Q. What is a PR media list?
A. A media list compiles media contacts relevant to a brand’s industry. This list typically includes journalists, bloggers, influencers, and other media professionals interested in covering the brand’s news or stories.

Q. Why is a PR media list important for companies?
A. A PR media list is crucial for companies as it helps streamline their outreach efforts. In addition, by targeting the right media contacts, companies can increase the likelihood of their news being covered, enhancing their visibility and credibility in the market.

Q. How can marketers create a PR media list?
A. Creating a PR media list involves researching and identifying media contacts who cover topics relevant to the brand. This includes looking at the type of stories they cover, their audience, and their reach. In addition, keeping the list updated is essential as media contacts often change roles or organizations.

Q. What are some best practices for using a PR media list?
A. Best practices include personalizing outreach efforts based on the media contact’s interests, following up appropriately, and maintaining relationships even when there’s no immediate news to share. It’s also crucial to respect their preferences and time and to provide them with newsworthy and relevant content.

Q. Can PR media lists be purchased?
A. While PR media lists can be purchased from certain providers, it’s often more practical to create a customized list. Purchased lists may not be up-to-date or tailored to the brand’s needs. Building a list in-house allows for more control and personalization, leading to better PR outreach results.

Michael Brito

Michael Brito is a Digital OG. He’s been building brands online since Al Gore invented the Internet. You can connect with him on LinkedIn or Twitter.