How Do I Build a Strong Media List? Unusual Places to Find Your Best Contacts

In the PR world, we’re constantly pushed to think outside of the box. We’re asked to tie local pieces to popular interest trends and bring seemingly insignificant things together to create a story. PR practitioners are storytellers. Writing the pitch, however, is only half the battle. What good is the perfect pitch if there’s no one on the other end to catch it?

No Junk Mail

A strong media list is tailored, modified slightly and altered along the way to fit the needs of your latest pitch. You wouldn’t want to send your story about the newly appointed president of the local university over to the food editor at The New York Times, would you? If you would, this is why your news isn’t getting picked up. It’s important to send your ideas out to media contacts who care. Hopefully, you can even spark their interests enough to get a “reply” email.

So, where can you find these contacts? It takes a bit of digging sometimes, but if you know what you’re looking for and carve out a little time, you’re sure to find the ones that matter most.

Pencils in Holder

Many PR software tools are built out for this very task, but PR professionals shouldn’t limit themselves to the likes of Cision and Meltwater when conducting media research. That said, here are a few free sources you may not have considered.


While LinkedIn serves as a powerful business and employment-oriented social networking environment for professionals to communicate and interact within, it can also be used for researching key people. Think about it–there are more than 467 million registered members, with more than two members joining each second. Are you looking for reporters in Miami who cover real estate news stories and exclusive breakthroughs around town? They’re on LinkedIn, and it’s more than likely that their positions reflect what you’re looking for.

LinkedIn’s search functionality doesn’t only work for professionals’ names. Try searching the phrase “real estate reporter” in the search bar and see who comes up. From there, be sure to use the search filters you see on the left hand side to hone in on location, company, industry, etc. All that’s left to do is to sort through the list that is left, and choose who you think would be a good fit for your pitch.


Twitter may not seem like a place to easily find professional contacts to pitch your ideas to on a daily basis, but it does help in finding out more about those you’re trying to reach. If you’ve got a name but not an email, Twitter is a great place to start. Say that LinkedIn contact you found doesn’t list his email anywhere. You tried an organic search on Google, but still nothing. Twitter is often an overlooked search tool that allows members to personally express their interests and engage in conversation.

Try typing your media contact name into the search bar and see if you can find them on Twitter. Quite often, reporters will list their email address right in their bio. They WANT you to reach out to them. They WANT you to send them the next big story. If an email address isn’t listed, many times there’s a link to a personal website. Many writers contribute to multiple sources and want to showcase their work in one, central place. A few clicks and you may just find the reporter who is searching for exactly what you’re selling.

Newspaper and Laptop

HARO (Help A Reporter Out)

If you’re not familiar with HARO, the concept is pretty simple. The service sends out daily emails that allow journalists to connect with expert sources (that’s you!). These emails will list various reporter queries about stories they are covering in the near future, and their name and/or contact information for you to send a relevant pitch to for their review.

While this makes the pitching process a bit easier by having reporters come to you, what if there are no queries that fit any information you have to share at this time? Save your sources. If you see a query or publication that might be a fit for a future pitch, keep track of the journalist who writes about these topics and then dig a little deeper. If they seem like a good fit for pitches you might have later on, save the name and email address to give you a jumpstart on your next media list build.


When all else fails, head to good old-fashioned Google. They rule the world, don’t they? Start with the publications you’re aiming to be covered in and run with them. Try searching for “food reporter Orlando Weekly” and see what pops up. You may be taken to the publication website, a specific article, or a longer list of contacts; the search results are endless.

If you have a name and need an email address, search for it. If it’s out there, Google will help you find it.

You take the time to build your pitch, strategically position it as a worthwhile topic and draft your communication to the media. This would all be a waste of time unless you send it out to those who will be the most receptive. What you don’t want is for your pitch to be thrown away (no matter how great it is) because it’s simply not what the reporter writes about.

Building a solid media list takes time and patience, but taking a look into a few unexpected sources will help make your list-building process that much easier. By doing so, you’ll set yourself up for higher chances of finding reporters who are interested in your content and, fingers crossed, will talk about it.