The Importance of Targeting and the Role of Media Lists

Improve the effectiveness of your media pitches to earn more impactful coverage

Whitney W. avatar
Written by Whitney W.
Updated over a week ago

Looking for ways to improve the effectiveness of your media pitches to earn more impactful coverage? There are two areas that may present opportunities for optimization:

1. Thoughtful targeting

2. The positioning and copy of the pitch itself. In this article, we focus on this area for development 🎯.

Thoughtful targeting is key to earning great media coverage. This is where media lists come in. Creating an effective media list starts with defining your target audience, and from there identifying the publications and contacts who already have their ear.

Here, it’s critical to be selective in which editors, journalists, and reporters to approach. This requires some strategic thinking and research. Who’s repeatedly writing about the topics that align with your own industry? What have they covered recently? What can you learn from their Twitter bio? What are they tweeting about? Is there alignment between your agenda and the profile of the publication they write for?

Audience Analysis

Who are they? Where are they located? What are their interests? What type of media do they consume? What publications do they read? Once this has been profiled, it’s now meaningful to research specific publications.

Publication Research

What topics do they tend to cover? Are they consistent with the type of coverage you’re looking for? What’s the size of the audience they reach? How frequently do they publish? The relevance of your pitch is a function of its timing, not just the story idea itself. Here it can be helpful to check their publishing calendar. Armed with this research, it’s time to decide who specifically to pitch.

Identifying the Right Person to Pitch

A blanket pitch to a broad set of journalists is easily sniffed out as spam. Editors and journalists can get up to hundreds of pitches per day. The key here is to identify the right person at a publication to pitch. Pitching multiple at the same publication reveals the lack of exclusivity, which removes the value of it in the eyes of those receiving it. Meltwater can help save you time here by using keyword searches to identify individuals who write about topics relevant to your pitch. Further refinement is possible through a range of filters (geography, media type, role, reach, etc.). Alternatively, most publications have lists of staff writers with contact information and journalist profiles listed.

Get Organized

Each media list should be developed for a particular purpose. Your organization principle could be anything, as long is it makes sense to you and your team. Examples could be audience type (in case you have audiences to consider), geography, media type, relationship type (you’ll likely communicate differently with someone you know well vs someone you don’t). Well organized lists will help with you targeting efforts, as well as save you time finding the right list when it’s time to pitch. On average, Meltwater customers have 12 media lists, and things can quickly get messy as the count grows, which leads us to the management of media lists.

Stay Relevant

First, the focus of your pitches may change over time, which must be reflected in your targeting. Second, reporters tend to change jobs frequently. Over the last few years, this has escalated significantly due to the need for cost-cutting for many publications. At Meltwater, we help you keep track of job changes through updating our database with updates to tens of thousands of media contact records every month. Admittedly, this is a challenging job. When we’ve missed something, we make it easy for you to request an update. You can learn more about that here:


Some argue that getting media coverage is an “art”. It’s really about preparation and diligent execution to create mutual value. This requires being thoughtful and intentional about who you ultimately want to reach (target audience), identifying who already has their ear (contacts), and crafting a story idea (pitch) that’s personalized and relevant to that journalist, editor, blogger or producer.

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