How to Create a Strong Press List

This week on ‘The Clear Guide Light’, learn how to have a strong press list so your press releases don't end up in the spam folder.

Last week, I explained the significance of press releases, their structure and basic rules. 

But once you have a release, you need to know who to send it to. Your press list is therefore oh so important as it forms the basis of a successful PR campaign. 

Here are some tips on how to create a strong press list:

Assess your target audience - The first thing you need to decide when creating your media list is who your target audience is and how best you can reach them. Start by researching what your target audience is interested in and how they prefer to consume information: blogs, websites, TV programs, newspapers or magazines?

Research media outlets - It’s important to find out as much as you can about the media outlets you want to email as this will ensure you are not wasting your time sending your story to the wrong contacts. The basic things you want to know are the topics they cover, whether they’re based online, print or broadcast and the readership or audience size. In addition, understanding the editorial calendar and the deadlines of the media you’re targeting will give you the best chance of landing timely coverage.

Competitor coverage - It’s good practice to put the same amount of effort into reviewing your competitor’s coverage as you do your own. But I also recommend you make a note of the types of publications their name keeps popping up in and add the journalists mentioning them to your own media list.

Find the right contact - Look at articles written about similar topics in your target publications and note the journalists’ names who wrote them. It is also useful to look at contacts’ job titles as often their particular area of expertise will be reflected, for example ‘food editor’ or ‘culture editor’. 

Unless you’ve hit a complete brick wall, avoid sending your release or pitch to the email address for general enquiries, as it rarely reaches the right person. To find the right media contact details, you can visit the media outlet’s website where they may list staff email addresses and phone numbers, or you can call the publication directly for the information you need. You can also search on Cision, Roxhill or a similar media database although a subscription to them is quite pricey. 


Organise & Update - Getting the information together is one thing but you need to organise it so that you can quickly and easily locate the information you need. A simple excel document does the job, with separate columns for the name of the media outlet, contact person, job title, email address and phone number. 

Your media contacts will also regularly move roles, specialities and outlets, so make sure you update your list. Bounce-back emails also – surprisingly – contain a lot of valuable information: who’s on holiday, who’s covering them, who’s left the outlet and, perhaps, who is replacing them. Use them to your advantage.


Never stop adding contacts – Search – online, in print or on social media – for people dominating relevant conversations you want to be a part of, influencers writing about competitors etc and add them to your list. 

Join me next time for tips on how to actually use your list when you issue a press release, and the basic things you need to know before you pitch your story to press. 

Happy communicating,