Seven Steps to Creating a Target Media List

It is best to create a target media list before you approach the media. The effort you take to do this now will save you time, money, and energy and ensure the best results.

Step 1. Know your expertise.
Step 2. Save the "I could have said that" stories.
Step 3. Lunch with your best clients.
Step 4. Organize your clients' media responses.
Step 5. Analyze your clients' data.
Step 6. Select media appropriate to your business objectives.
Step 7. Add different types of media.

Tip: You don't want to be quoted or featured in just any medium. To build your business, be strategic and discriminating about what you say and where you create your news coverage.

Step 1. Know Your Expertise

It is critical that your positive news coverage supports your business objectives. This seems obvious, yet do you know exactly how you would describe yourself and your firm in 10 minutes if the media called you? There's nothing worse than an article with inaccurate statements about your customers and service. You don't want to say to yourself, "I wish I had said..." What a waste.

To create a target media list, first focus on your business objectives. Focus on becoming an expert, not a commodity. What do you want your target market to know about you?

To Do:
Checkmark What type of clients do you want to serve now? How about in one, three, five, or ten years? Project as far ahead as you can.
Checkmark What services do you want to offer?
Checkmark List, categorize, and prioritize your areas of expertise now and for the future.

Tip: Many professionals do not take the time to do this strategic planning before approaching the media. Don't be one of them. Know how the media can help you achieve your goals. It will make a huge difference in your media results and your bottom line.

Step 2. Save the "I Could Have Said That" Stories

Know the media outlets that you want to target. Read them, view the TV shows, and listen to the radio. Save the stories.

Changes in the metropolitan daily newspapers, trade publications, and magazines have reduced the number of reporters on staff. Therefore, many concept stories (idea-driven stories that are more feature stories than breaking news) are covered by freelance writers, syndicated columnists, or wire service reporters. They are continually looking for stories. Be their source in the future.

To Do:
Checkmark Identify articles that cover your area of expertise.
Checkmark Save the "I could have said that" stories.
Checkmark Keep track of reporters whose work you admire.
Checkmark Add these writers to your target media list.

Tip: Write to the columnist or freelance writer c/o the media outlet, and send a story idea every month for a year.

Step 3. Take Your Best Clients to Lunch

  • Take your best clients to lunch, and after about three minutes of golf stories, ask your clients about the media that are important to them.
  • What TV, radio shows, newspapers, magazines, journals, and association newsletters do they pay attention to?
  • What are their professional affiliations?
  • What personal interests, such as sports, travel, and hobbies, do they pursue?
  • What is on their must-read list?
  • What media keep them current professionally?
  • Who are their favorite reporters?
To Do:
Checkmark Ask clients what print, broadcast media, or Web sites they:
  • Read
  • Watch
  • Listen to
  • Visit regularly

Tip: Tell your clients that you are developing a strategy to attract the attention of the media. Accept any introductions to the media that they offer to make for you, just as you would refer business to them.

Step 4. Organize Your Clients' Media Response

You now know what media your best clients turn to for information. It is logical that you will find other prospects there. You now need to organize your clients' media response.

Organizing Variables

There are five critical variables to help you organize your information into a media list:

  1. Reach: how widely the media are read, seen, or listened to and by whom
  2. Frequency: daily, weekly, monthly, bimonthly, semiannually, annually
  3. Local: media outlets in your town, city, county, region
  4. National: media outlets throughout the country
  5. International: media outlets outside the country


S. Snow reads the Family Business Journal, a business quarterly print magazine for closely held business owners. Reach is 1,000.

P. Golden reads USA Today, a consumer print newspaper. Frequency is daily. Reach is 1.5 million.

K. Pratt reads Pensions & Investments, a print business magazine. It is biweekly with a reach of 50,000.

Client Media Outlet Media Category Media Market Reach Frequency
S. Snow Family Business Journal Print/Business Magazine Closely Held Business Owners 1,000 Quarterly
P. Golden USA Today Print Newspaper Consumer 1.5 million Daily
K. Pratt Pensions & Investments Trade Publication Institutional Money Managers 50,000 Biweekly

Step 5. Analyze Your Clients' Data

  • What media categories do your best clients turn to the most: print, broadcast, or Web?
  • What media outlets were mentioned most frequently: newspapers, magazines, newsletters, TV shows, radio, or online magazines?
  • Are they local or national media?
  • What are the avocational interests of your clients?

Step 6. Select Media Appropriate to Your Business Objectives

Design your target media list so that it gives you both reach and frequency. Do not ignore a publication with a small circulation. It could have a reach highly targeted to your market. Its readers could be more advantageous to your business than a larger publication's reach and frequency. What media do you want to cover your company?

Tip: It is often easier to become a source for a national publication than a metropolitan newspaper. Metropolitan newspapers' business sections often focus on regional and local business of a certain size, not on concepts, such as investment management or personal finance.

Step 7. Add Different Types of Media

The research you conduct with your clients will give you an excellent foundation for a targeted media list. A complete list needs to include media that may be unfamiliar to your clients yet are read by colleagues and other professionals.

Targeting some of these additional media outlets will enhance your credibility and visibility and expand the value of your media campaign. The following is a list of media categories with specific media outlets. This particular list was prepared for the financial services industry.

Use the five organizing variables mentioned above, and keep your business objectives in mind when selecting additional media. Revise your list as changes occur in your business and as you become more familiar with the media world.

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