The DART Strategy for Building Media Lists


By Sandy Leong

The trick behind making sure your press release stays in a reporter’s inbox is in knowing who to contact and how to present your idea to them. Developing a good media list is just as important as penning a great pitch. Get this right and you will have a solid list of contacts from which you can reference again and again.

We recommend the DART strategy

D             DEFINE – your story – the, “so what?”

A             Choose your AUDIENCE – who are you targeting?

R             RESEARCH – Search for contacts, read their articles, know their beat

T              TWEAK – Update your list on an ongoing basis

DEFINE Your Story

Before you even begin building a media list, make sure you’ve fleshed out the point you’re trying to get across: What are you hoping to achieve? What message(s) do you want to deliver?

Choose your AUDIENCE

Who is your ultimate customer and what do they care about? Identify which media your market is following whether local, regional, national, traditional or social. The reporters you choose to contact will also depend on your angle, e.g., if your story is on a new restaurant, your pitch to a food blogger will be slightly different than it would be for a lifestyle reporter.


Whether you’re using a media database or a search engine, you will need to dig deep to find the right targets. Start searching for the general outlets that cover your topic and then narrow down what you’ve compiled by media type and location. Supplement your list with contact names and titles.

Tip: Always try to replace the generic e-mail (editorial@) that media outlets set up for queries with ones that go directly to the right editor.

Not sure where to start? Begin by getting familiar with the outlets and reporters on your list before you pitch them. Look at their past articles and imagine how you could help them write their next story.

TWEAK your List

Your job doesn’t end here. Keeping your media lists updated is just as important as identifying the right outlets and writers. The media world is fast paced, and with each day that goes by, another journalist has shifted roles.  Review your lists at least every 1-2 months to make sure your contacts are fresh. This will ensure you have a quality, reliable database.

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