Building media lists is an essential skill and almost (for some of us daily) a weekly job in our industry. We’ve got our contacts and know who to approach with what story. But if we’re exploring a new industry or just getting into PR how can we build a media list without paying for annual journalists database subscription?

The answer is, as with many other things, research!

What’s out there

A very important part of your research is finding out what publications are relevant to you/your client. You don’t want to target publication that is irrelevant, whether that’s topics they cover, location or the fact that your target audience doesn’t read it. We should make sure we are getting the most out of our content marketing campaign.

So our media list starts with names of publications that are relevant to us, covered a similar story to what we are creating. Then we should add publications that are on our ‘wish list’, meaning those that we really want our brand or client to be featured in – still keeping it relevant.

Who covered it

The next step is to see who covered similar stories or who is focusing on our topic and write down their names. Then we need to do a bit of stalking. It’s not just about seeing who covered our topic/similar story as journalists change their roles, who they write for and sometimes just fill in when there is not enough resource. So we need to find out if that person is really relevant.

We should start by looking at their social media profiles – best is Twitter and LinkedIn. Does it say they cover topics that we thought they did? Do they work/freelance for the publication we thought they did? If yes, we’ve got a winner.

Get their contact details

And while looking at their social media profiles, it’s worth checking if they shared their email address there. Lots of journalists do include an email address in their Twitter bio. If it’s not there, let’s get back to the article we found and see if their email address is there. If it’s regional paper, very often you can see the email address when you hover over their name (author of the article). Or you can go into contact page within the paper and see if their email address is there, if it’s not, Google it. Type their name and the publication’s name and see if they ever mentioned their email address online.


You can also use some free (limited) tools such as Rocketsearh – such a tool scans the internet for you to see if the person has ever published their email address. is another great tool. If you still can’t see their contact details, try getting in touch with them on social media (again, Twitter is best for this). Direct message them or tweet them, let them know you have a story they might like and ask for their contact details.


Inspect page – Author


If you find very relevant article but you can’t see who has written it. Do right-click, selecting ‘Inspect’ then Control/Command F and search ‘author’, you will find the name of the journalist and can follow the above steps to find their email address.


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Don’t put all eggs in one basket, make sure you find a few journalists from the publication you want to get your brand or client featured in and contact them one by one and see their feedback.