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4 Secrets to Contacting Reporters Every PR Pro Should Know

public relations Dec 21, 2020

To successfully place your content or pitch, you sometimes have to put on your best Sherlock Holmes hat to sleuth out not whodunit but who’s likely to do it—and how to best contact them.

The “it” in question is to publish your contributed content. But finding contact information for reporters can sometimes be ultra tricky. 

Before we go through ways to uncover their contact info, let’s back it up a bit to the steps that got us here. You likely created a list of media outlets that speaks to your desired target audience. GREAT. Now that you have a fully vetted list of publications that accept contributed content, as well as contact names (reporters/editors) at each one, you need one more piece of crucial information: their email. Yes, there is software you can purchase that has this information, but I’m telling you, it’s simple (and free) to uncover on your own. Also, your research will be the most current, while sometimes databases lag behind in reporters changing media outlets and other life changes. No sense in paying for that.

Here are my top four ways to find media email addresses: 

1) Find it on the publication’s website.

While it may not jump out at you on the page, always start with looking at articles the reporter has written. Sometimes you might find the appropriate email address right in her or his byline. 

If you can’t find it that way, you can often make an educated guess by looking at the style of email addresses for other employees such as salespeople and executives (the advertising media kit is a GREAT place to look). Is it “[email protected]” or “[email protected]”? Test a few out. If your email service doesn’t reject your message, you may have success. 

If that doesn’t heed you great results, let’s move to another method to check.

2) Scan journalists’ social media accounts.

Twitter is a super effective, real-time source to find out what a reporter is working on and in many cases, figure out her or his email address. All you have to do is type your contact's name into the Twitter search bar and look at the bio to see if there’s an email address listed there. Some journalists may also pin their email addresses at the top of their Twitter feeds, so that’s worth checking out, too. 

You can also try Facebook, although it might be harder to sleuth out because many people have private accounts. You could see if you have mutual friends or colleagues that could introduce you.

Finally, you can also check out the reporter’s LinkedIn profile where it says “Advice for Contacting.” You’d be surprised at how many people put an email address there or a link to a personal website.

Did you strike out again? No worries. Let’s move to step three.

You May Also Like: 6 Things to Do if Social Media Overwhelms You

 3) Find the reporter’s personal blog.

More often than not, journalists have personal websites that have “About” pages with contact information. This is an especially juicy tip as many reporters want to build their online portfolio and often want to be contacted by legitimate sources. It might be a personal email, but it's a starting point and fair game because that person has opted to make that email public.

No dice? Let’s move on to the last step.

 4) Cold call the publication.

If there is a phone number listed on the publication’s website, you can call and ask for a certain reporter. Be aware, however, that not all journalists will welcome your call. While some at small niche trade magazines may be fine with it, reporters at bigger publications tend to be on multiple deadlines and won’t necessarily appreciate you distracting them from their writing. Or, you can always ask the person that picks up the phone who may be an assistant or receptionist. Sneaky pro tip: tell the person that answered the phone that you’re working on an article for said reporter, but seemed to have misplaced their email. And would they kindly pass it along? ;)

Hopefully by now you have that coveted email address in your hands and are ready to hit them with your best pitch. 

Thanks to the Internet, you can be your own Sherlock Holmes and find a reporter’s contact information using these four methods. Best of all, you don’t need to pay a pretty penny for a “Watson”—read: expensive PR software—to make killer connections with just the right journalists.

If you’re interested in finding out more about how to get your content published -- including a step-by-step guide to identifying the best publications for your content and a handy spreadsheet to help you easily create your media list -- check out this Content Marketing course on LinkedIn Learning.com.

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