A strong media list is the backbone of any successful PR program, but starting a new list from scratch is a daunting task. If you are not familiar with the reporters who covers your new client’s vertical niche, filling out a list can feel like guesswork. Luckily, there are many resources and tricks that can help you research relevant press contacts without needing to resort to a Magic 8 Ball. Here are a few of my favorites ways to fill out a new media list.

Other similar clients at your agency?

This might seem like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised how easy it can be to overlook the obvious at a large agency. Ask your colleagues if they have any clients in the same vertical as yours and use their lists as a starting point. It’s usually NOT a good idea to copy these lists verbatim without checking the contacts first – they’re probably not all relevant unless your clients are identical.

Use media databases

Media databases such as Meltwater or MyMediaInfo usually have search features that let you search for reporters by keyword or for pubs that covers a certain topic. Some also have filtering features that let you specify the size and type of media outlet you want to find. These are helpful for finding career beat reporters and pubs that specialize in a specific topic or vertical. However, I’ve found that the contact information these databases provide is often out of date. Reporters change jobs frequently, so be sure to double check instead of blindly trusting what the database tells you.

Google News Searches

Google News and Bing News are your best friends. Searching for the following queries can usually turn up pubs and reporters that will be relevant:

  • Past coverage of your new client
  • Product names
  • Names of your client’s competitors
  • Industry keywords (to find pubs that covers these topics)

Top media outlets

To make sure you’re not missing anyone, look for lists of the top US media outlets and make sure they are all represented on your list (if you at least searched all of those outlets for relevant contacts). The Pew Research Center for Journalist and Media has some good resources for this, and AgilityPR does as well. With a little Googling, you should also be able to find a list of top outlets in your area for local outreach.

Verify via Twitter

Twitter is usually the first thing reporters update when they change jobs. After you’ve found reporters using the above tactics, check them all on Twitter to make sure they haven’t changed jobs recently. Many reporters also share contact info in their Twitter bios and say if they are open to receiving pitches by DM.

Having relevant reporters on your list (and not including ones who aren’t) makes your job as a PR professional significantly easier. Use the tips above and make sure you put in the time to make a quality list – it will pay off ten times over as you conduct outreach.