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Media & Influencer Lists, Saved by the Bell Style

I only have vague memories of “Saved by the Bell,” but I remember the stereotypes: the rebel, the cheerleader, the jock, the geek. And, of course, the person who was always in the know. She knew where the best parties were and who was seeing whom.

If you wanted to get your news out there, you went to her. Sure, Principal Belding could make an announcement over the PA system, but who ever listened to him? Exactly. Instead, you went to the person with the contacts and the reach. You knew if you told her about a party or other exciting news that it’d be all over the school by lunchtime.

Media and influencer lists are no different. They should be populated with people who will hear your message and take it to the masses. It’s a little trickier than it was in high school; these people have their readers and communities to think of. But getting your message out there is possible. You just have to do some homework first.

Identify your “in the know” people.


“Spray-and-pray” methods have never worked, and they work even less well now. Today, you have to focus on the target audience and the best ways to reach them in order to be heard. Ask:

  • Where do they spend time online?
  • What sites do they frequent?
  • Whose content do they share?

Those three questions can help identify potential influencers, as well as media outlets.

With the media, some help is available. Use a media database like the one provided by Cision. Look by outlets or by people’s names. If using the former tactic, identify possible media contacts and do further research. You want to contact the reporter or journalist most likely to cover your story, not someone who’s going to see the pitch and doom any future ones to email purgatory.

Want to brush up on more PR basics? View this month’s “PR Starter Kit” white paper!

Build your list.

You can use any tool you like (Excel or a Google spreadsheet comes to mind, maybe even Evernote.), but this is the crucial point: you need a list that’s easy to access and update. There’s simply no way to keep up with all the journalists and influencers without the aid of one. Use the list to keep track of:

  • People’s names
  • Media outlets (journalists) or personal sites (influencers)
  • Contact information
  • Social networks, starting with ones where they’re most active
  • Notes about what topics they cover, how they like to be pitched and publicly available personal information that can help establish rapport

Keep the list up to date.


Building a list is a huge undertaking. Don’t let it go to waste! What would you do if you showed up to work one day and your in-the-know person at “The Huffington Post” was no longer around? Would you know whom to talk to next?

That’s what keeping—and maintaining—a list is all about. You always have someone to contact because the list is constantly evolving. You know when Lisa is going on maternity leave and who’s stepping into her place. In fact, you’ve already made inroads with that person through Lisa. No blanket pitches to principals and similar figures for you; you know whom to contact, and they get your story out, all the time, to the right people, at the right time.

Images: Humor BlogMaryland GovPics, Phil Roeder (Creative Commons)

About Erin Feldman

Erin Feldman is the director of editorial services at Tenacity5 Media. When she isn’t researching, writing, and editing blog posts and white papers, she writes poetry and essays, draws her favorite Write Right character, and plans what art form to study next. She’s based in Austin, Texas and can be found on Twitter @erinmfeldman.

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