5 Tactics and 10 Tools for Successful List Building

Contrary to popular belief, crafting the perfect pitch doesn’t begin with writing a pitch at all. Before you ever type a word to describe your content, you should begin by learning about the people you’re describing your content to – your list of prospective publishing contacts.

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The most effective, efficient list building process begins with knowing which publishers will be most receptive to your content. It’s not enough to blast a mass email to everyone in a specific vertical; to earn the largest reach for your content, you’ll need to laser-target your pitches and know exactly what your contacts are looking for.

Employ these five tips and tools in your content promotion strategy and your lists will be pitch-perfect, every time.

1. Get to know the person, not just the writer

Making an authentic connection is the first step to great media relations and can be the most fruitful long-term tactic for your relationships with publishers and writers. You should always get to know the writer’s style and beat, but you can also gain their attention by learning more about them on a personal level. What are their interests? What kind of music, food, TV shows, designers, gear do they love? What makes that person tick?

Writing is just one part of each person you reach out to; take time to learn about their passions beyond their profession. One of the best and most original ways to make a great first impression is to connect over shared interests, humor, or hobbies.


  • Twitter can help you gather insights on tone and style (beyond their professional writing style).
  • Twitter Lists are useful for making buckets for different types of content based on your connections.
  • Instagram gives you a literal snapshot into a contact’s style and interests through photos. Are they posting beautifully aesthetic galleries or are they the life of the party with tons of group selfies? Knowing this could help you confidently build the right kind of pitch when you do outreach.


2. Get a bird’s eye view

Understanding the ecosystem of each writer’s work will help you prioritize your pitch targets. To do this, measure their scope and reach, understand the types of publications they have written for, learn about their history and experience, and familiarize yourself with their professional world.

Many talented writers are freelancers or write for multiple publications simultaneously. As a content promoter, this gives you the opportunity to pick the best fit writer with the most engaged following. When pitching an exclusive, knowing which publications are most worthy of the content is essential. Which site has the ability to be most influential? Which can offer the greatest visibility?

These are questions I have learned to ask myself continuously when I have a great piece of content. The answers lie in doing your homework on every writer and publisher, and the extra work is always worth it!


  • Moz measures digital scope and reach based on domains, page ranks, engagement, analytics, and more in an integrated and easy-to-use platform.
  • Contently allows you to view all posts across multiple publications in one place.


3. Do hybrid searches

In order to find the most precise targets for outreach, try searches that combine multiple interests with the way they are delivered or approached. For example, if you have a study about music genre preferences in the United States that used Twitter to derive results, you can create hybrid searches that include all of this. Instead of a simple search for “music in the U.S.,” try combinations like “music, Twitter, northeast” or “music, social media, south, culture”.

Segmented, specific results like these allow you to find and target experts and high-authority publishers in a number of domains. Because you’ve combined multiple queries, you may find contacts who are not interested in one aspect of your content (in this case, geographic cultural trends or music), but might pick up the story because of another angle (such as social media or technology). Hybrid searches open your contact pool to new angles and prospects you may not have considered otherwise.



4. Stay organized

When conducting outreach for multiple projects with a promotions team, organization and archiving are essential. Once you take the time to target the right people, your contacts will likely prove valuable again for you or someone else on your team.  For that reason, it should be a priority to keep track of:

  • Publishers you’ve reached out to
  • Contacts you have good relationships with for future collaboration
  • Writers and editors your team members have worked with
  • Contacts you are currently working with from each publication, so there’s no overlap between you and your teammates

A list of all the details (contact info, publisher, related posts, current connection status) is great to have on hand and will be referenced often.


  • BuzzStream is an influencer CRM that makes it easy to research influencers, send personalized and efficient outreach, and keep organized across multiple campaigns, conversations and team mates.


5. Explore trends in-depth

Anything that trends and is newsworthy, multi-faceted, controversial, or triggers emotions is a potential opportunity to create a connection. Not only will you feel more confident to engage when you are more knowledgeable about current events, but you will also be able to bring your own opinions and thoughts to conversations. Journalists and writers are some of the most appreciative audiences for those adding value and new points to existing topics.


  • Google Trends reveals current trends, allows you to add and compare topics, and visualizes global and national trends based on location.
  • The Flipboard app is a quick and diverse, on-the-go news and content browser that provides impeccably relevant content.