How to build a media list for free

iStock-697448616.jpgMost agencies that provide public relations services subscribe to software that gives them access to a comprehensive database of all members of the media throughout the country.

These services, such as Cision or Meltwater, can be expensive and cost-prohibitive for very small agencies, in-house public relations professionals or small business owners trying to generate media coverage.

The good news is you can survive without these expensive services, especially if you are building a media list for local media pitching or even just light national pitching.

Start out by building a very simple Excel spreadsheet with columns for name, outlet, Twitter handle and email address. This will lay the groundwork for you to collect all the data in one easy-to-use place.

Local television stations and newspapers are generally excellent at listing all their editorial staff on their websites. This can be a great resource for identifying not only who to target, but these websites generally will also list social media handles and email addresses.

If you can’t find a reporter’s email address on the staff listing of the outlet’s website, try looking at a recent story they have written to see if it is listed either with the byline or at the bottom of the article. You can also check their social media bios as sometimes email address can be found there as well.

If all else fails and you just can’t locate an email address, check their Twitter profile page to see if they have their direct messages open. You can tell if they are open by looking under their bio. If you see a link to “message,” you’re good to go. If they are closed, just try sending them a tweet.

Is it easier to build a media list with expensive software? Definitely. Can you build a pretty comprehensive list on your own with a little elbow grease? Absolutely!

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