How to Build a Media Contact List and Network Online?

Aug 2022

One of the most crucial steps in creating your public relations strategy: build a media contact list. This list will be your best tool when working to win media coverage, but it can be one of the most challenging parts of your strategy. Discover how to effectively build your media contact list and the best practices for networking with journalists online. 

Define Your Target Audience

Although you may have different goals, public relations campaigns are not so different from marketing campaigns. Similar to elements in your digital marketing strategy, effective public relations tactics must be directed at the right audience. That is why the first step to building a media contact list is defining who your audience is. What publications and journalists most align with your industry? What publications are your customers reading? Where are your competitors being featured? These questions will help you first create your list of media folks to engage and begin building relationships with. You can also lean on some of your current contacts for introductions or referrals to the media folks you are hoping to reach.

Be Accessible

One of the most important parts of creating media relationships is being available and responsive. This will let you stay on top of opportunities and allow reporters to get the information they need for their stories quickly. You can do this by sharing your email address or social media handles with reporters you’d like to connect with. Be sure to monitor whichever account you list as your main point of contact. That way, when news breaks out, reporters can easily reach out to you or your business for a comment or quote.

Network Where Journalists Are

Based on the target audience list you first created, determine what channels your potential media contacts are on. Do they spend more time on Twitter? Are they on Facebook? Are they in forums like Reddit? Spend time in these areas genuinely engaging with journalists’ content. This shows the journalists that you not only appreciate their pieces but are willing to learn their beat. This will help you later on when you are ready to pitch one of your own pieces or ideas. 

Stay in Touch

Maintaining media relationships is crucial to achieving placements. It’s important to keep the line of communication open even if you don’t have a story or idea to pitch. Several PR experts recommend sending In Case You Missed It (ICYM) emails to reporters you have relationships with. This is a way to let the reporters know what’s going on in your industry or company without forcing them to cover your story. It’s also important to continue engaging with their media stories. Don’t just spend your time sharing the pieces you are featured in. To maintain a long-term partnership, media folks need to see that you aren’t aiming for a one-sided relationship. Engaging with their other articles is a way to help them get more exposure for their content and shows that you are loyal to their writing.

The key to obtaining great media features is building a list of journalists and publications that focus on your industry and creating authentic relationships with these contacts. Spend time doing your research to select the best writers and publications and do your part in engaging with their writing and being available for commentary on headlines.

1 in 4 professionals do not engage in online networking.

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