Not everyone can afford a subscription to Vocus or Cision. If you are one of them, and you need to build a media list (and you don’t have a friend that will do it for you), I suggest doing the legwork yourself. You can find most outlets for free on the Web, as there are tons of free directories of media information out there.
If you need to build a media list from scratch, I suggest starting with identifying the outlets you want to target. Once you have a list of target outlets, visit the website for each outlet to research it thoroughly. Each media organization provides different levels of media information you can use to fine-tune your lists.
To get you started on finding outlets you might want to target, here are 14 or so resources you can use for free to learn about outlets that cover your industry or news in your part of the world:
The Internet Public Library
The Internet Public Library includes a list of popular magazines and newspapers organized by their respective subject area or geographic focus. Each individual listing includes a brief description of the outlet’s coverage area, along with a link to their website. Other similar directories include World Newspapers & Magazines (some of these listings are outdated, but it’s still a good starting point), the Yahoo! News, and the Media directory, and Mondo Times.
LinkedIn is a great resource for finding professional journalists. With LinkedIn’s new search features, you can dive deeper into user data to find contacts that fit your criteria. For example, I recently created a search to find contacts with “reporters” as their professional title within a 30-mile radius of my zip code. There were more than 18,000 contacts, but I could easily narrow this search by limiting other fields or adding a keyword like “business”. LinkedIn also lets you save five searches, so you can be alerted to new contacts that join LinkedIn matching your criteria.
We’ve talked about the MediaOnTwitter wiki several times in this blog already, but it’s worth mentioning again. The database is currently going through an upgrade and will soon be much easier to use. As Twitter continues to experience explosive growth, no doubt will it continue to expand as a medium for reaching journalists and bloggers. You can learn more about the MediaOnTwitter wiki from PRSarahEvans.com. While MediaOnTwitter is the most comprehensive list, there’s also a Media People Using Twitter wiki that was created by My Creative Team (in case you wanted more).
Alltop is an alternative to setting up RSS feeds for all your favorite blogs on a subject. Alltop has a team of keen-eyed experts that work to aggregate “All” the “Top” blogs on a particular subject. I regularly read the “PR” and “Journalism” categories on Alltop to keep up with current trends and developments relevant to the subjects I write about on this blog. With a few mouse clicks, Alltop will show you any number of the “top” outlets you’ll want to consider for your media list.
Technorati is a blog search engine. You can use it to search for blog posts on any subject. The company also manages a list of the Top 100 Blogs, which is a great place to find the world’s most popular blogs on subjects you’re interested in. You can also explore Technorati in many different categories to find relevant blogs. Some of the more popular categories include Technology, Business, Entertainment, IT, and Finance.
Congress.org Media Guide
This is a useful directory of media outlets organized by your geographic area. You can click on an interactive map to find newspapers in different areas of the country. Each listing includes a description of the outlet, along with some contacts for the publication (geared toward those that cover politics but are still useful).
Audit Bureau of Circulations
PRSourceCode provides a variety of paid PR services for agencies and professionals working in technology-related sectors. While the company provides paid services, it has a free listing of business and technology publications on its website, linked to the sites. This is an excellent place to start if you’re building a tech-focused media list.
FAIR’s Media Contact List
This organization provides a list of media outlets – really designed for you to voice your opinion (or complaint) about media bias and censorship. Most of the contact information is generic, so you could use it as a jumping-off point for major outlets. This list has basic contact information for outlets like CNBC, CNN, Fox News Channel, USA Today, Newsweek, and Time.
HARO (Help A Reporter Out)
I’m sure you’ve heard about HARO. If you’re not one of the nearly 80,000 people using the service, it’s a free service that connects journalists with expert sources. Each email (there are three a day) includes reporter queries that you can respond to (provided you have a relevant pitch or expert to offer up). But what if you’re not a fit for the opportunity, but are for the outlet? Keep track of journalists and bloggers that regularly write about topics related to your subject areas – then research those outlets and contacts to add to your media list. What better way to learn what a journalist is interested in than to see the types of experts they regularly reach out to through HARO.
Regator aggregates the best blog posts on different subjects. While Alltop will show you the best blogs on a subject, Regator shows you the best posts, saving you even more time. I’ve just started using this service (it’s another of our favorite Atlanta-based startups), and it’s useful for finding the most relevant posts on subjects I’m interested in. The best posts are hand-selected by experienced journalists, so you’ll find nothing but great quality here.
TradePub works with business and trade magazine publishers to market free subscriptions to qualified professionals. This is your one-stop-shop for subscribing to a wide range of free business and trade publications of interest to you. It’s also a great place to find outlets you’ll want to add to your media list.
TVA Productions is a top independent studio that just happens to have an awesome directory of media outlets in many different categories. The directory is well-designed and easy to navigate. The only downside is the directory only lists the name and location of each outlet per category, so you’ll still have to find the outlet’s website to continue your research from there.
None of these resources will provide anywhere near the volume or accuracy of information found in commercial media databases like Vocus or Cision. It’s true that you get what you pay for when it comes to media research. If you’re managing media relations for several organizations, consider investing in one of these solutions. If you just need to create a media list for your small business or startup, you can do this for free with a moderate amount of effort, using the resources I’ve provided in this post.
Is there another resource people should know about? Do you have other suggestions for building media lists on the cheap? Please share your thoughts.
(Photo Credit: Magazine stack by bravenewtraveler / Ian MacKenzie)