How to Create a Media Distribution List


Media lists of any size are key to the success of your news release and overall PR campaign. Before creating a list, it’s important to take a look at your audience – who is going to be most interested in the news you’re about to release? From there, take a look at the media that cover that beat. Those are the people you’ll want to include in your list.

We typically create media lists in Microsoft Excel. The first step is to open up a new Excel workbook, reorient the page to landscape.

For your columns, title them as such:
Media outlet
– Examples include Redbook, Chicago Tribune

Media type
– Examples include television, Web site, radio

– The first and last name of the reporter contact

– What’s the contact’s title? Are they an editor or a reporter? Do they cover lifestyle, shopping, food?

– Be sure to include extension, too.

– In this section, make note about recent coverage that applies to your story you’re about to pitch. Also, keep notes regarding your contact with the reporter. This allows you to keep track of your interactions and avoid uncomfortable situations like triple pitching a contact after they’ve already told you “no” twice.

So you have your Excel workbook ready, now what? Well, it depends on the pitch and what you have access to.

Most PR folks subscribe to costly software that allows them to search for any number of media contacts throughout the nation. If you don’t have access to something like this, then make Google work for you. If it’s a local pitch, Google the city + reporter to get a feel for the outlets that should be included. If it’s a trade pitch, Google the industry + reporter. Once you have the media outlets noted, then you can go back into their Web sites to determine the appropriate contacts.

Remember: Homework is everything when prepping your list. Your number one goal is to list media contacts that are relevant to your story. Avoid at all costs pitching a reporter that doesn’t make sense. If I’m pitching an anti-aging cream, I’m going to be sure I’m pitching beauty reporters, not sports reporters. Make sense?