There are a number of ways to establish a media contact list, but the best place to start is with your institution's own communications office. They'll have contacts in education media that they may be willing to share, or they might distribute press releases themselves.
Also, identify the media outlets in which you'd like to be highlighted—local newspapers, industry news, etc.—and note the bylines of the editors and reporters that are writing or talking about your topic. Keep a file of articles and writers you like. Search the source for guidelines on submissions or ways to reach media contacts directly. Be sure to mention your awareness of their work in your pitch letter.
For general media, one of the best resources for contacting a targeted media list of major and minor publications and bloggers nationwide is PR Newswire. It's very user-friendly and offers generous non-profit rates. It also provides sample press releases and other points of reference for free.
A social media press release is a slightly different animal. As you might expect, news via social media is punchier and more direct. There are online resources, such as How to Write a Social Media Press Release, which help you define the difference between your media press release and social media press release. You can find out which news websites and blogs are reporting on Education by using Alltop, or find a list of top education bloggers, such as OEDb's Top 100 Education Blogs, and go "door-to-door" pitching bloggers. But there are also commercial tools for disseminating your news broadly, such as PitchEngine. To get a broad sense of the entire social media press release landscape and process, check out a PBS blog called MediaShift.
Tip: Be sure to monitor any publicity your organization receives, even if unsolicited, and keep a list of outlets covering issues related to your project or center.
In addition to the traditional and social media outlets mentioned in this section, there are many publicity opportunities within the ATE community, NSF, and beyond. Go to the next section for a quick guide to Potential Outreach Paths within the NSF and ATE community.