What is a media list?

In an effort to help folks understand the “secret sauce” of how we PR people do our jobs effectively, we’ve been writing posts on some of our favorite public relations tactics. (If you missed any, all are available below.)
Today, we explore the media list.
A media list is essentially a database. Today, it is often a list of names and emails of target media (whereas in the past it may have been fax numbers, physical addresses, et al). Media lists are developed to send out story pitches, news releases, product announcements, media advisories, calendar listings and more.
However, not all media lists are created equal. And those who do not customize and tailor them for a specific pitch, release or other, do so at their own peril.
A great example: in my spare time, I write for about two dozen magazines on the topics of food, drink, travel, resorts, events and attractions. As a magazine writer, I am usually sourcing 60 to 90 days in advance. For example, right now (February 26), I am done writing all of my stories for APRIL and have already chosen topics for MAY. I am sourcing and seeking ideas for JUNE.
However, it never fails. Today, I got a story pitch – clearly one sent to 100 other media folks with a generic media list – about Peanut Butter Lover’s Day.
I am SO a peanut butter lover.
However, Peanut Butter Lover’s Day is March 1, so in three days. And, the pitch states some amazing visuals I “can use on air.” It also started with “Dear Allison.”

  1. A quick google search when making the media list above would have shown I am a magazine writer and work 90 days in advance. I shouldn’t be on this list, no matter how delicious the story.
  2. Sometimes, we as PR people work too fast. Sometimes we copy and paste pitches to multiple people. In the case of this pitch, by noting there are great visuals for TV, I can tell the person is clearly blasting the same pitch with zero customization to broadcast, online and print media at the same time. However, we all need different things.
  3. My name is Alison. 

Media lists these days are tricky. They are both an art and a science. But those who take the time to do them right are recognized immediately by the media, and used in stories time and time again.
Full Series to Date – The PR Toolbox
What is story mining?
What is a story pitch?
What are key messages?
What is a segment sheet?
What is a media advisory?
What is a news release?
What is a photo caption?
What is a deskside media tour?
What is a press conference?
What is an informal media meeting?

Written by
at Feb 26, 2019

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