Five easy ways to find journalists’ details
Five easy ways to find journalists’ contact details
By Katie Mallinson – Scriba PR
If you’re running a small business, doing your own PR, the chances are you will want to look for some media coverage from time to time.
All sorts of happenings make good press releases – from business successes and announcements to new products or awards and accolades.
And to get those press releases to the right people, you will need to contact journalists in one way or other.
But be warned, they are busy. They field calls and emails all day, every day, from people like you, looking for coverage.
They often get frustrated by requests that aren’t relevant to them or their media outlet – but if you give them a good story that their audiences will appreciate, they will be happy to work with you.
So how do you figure out who to contact and how to reach them? Here are five pointers …
Read, watch or listen to their stories
Consume the media that you would like to be featured in. Do you see yourself being interviewed by your local BBC radio station? Then tune in for a few hours to get a feel for the programmes and presenters.
Industrial or financial stories are probably covered by a regular business reporter. Something more consumer or family oriented might be better suited to a mid-morning on-air chat. Whose programme is that?
The chances are, while you’re scrolling away on your smartphone or tablet during your ‘me time’, you will come across the work of journalists who you feel might be interested in your story. Make a note of that person.
Journalists are pleased when the people contacting them are clearly familiar with their work and enthusiastic about it, because so many simply are not.
Find them on social media
Twitter, LinkedIn or Instagram are all perfectly acceptable ways to research and contact journalists nowadays. Many, including local reporters, also maintain professional Facebook pages on which they post links to their work.
You cannot send a private message on Twitter to someone who doesn’t follow you, of course, but you can Tweet them directly starting with their @ name, to ask whether they would be interested in your story.
A social media approach can sometimes get a journalist’s attention more effectively than another email in a cluttered inbox – but if they are not interested, the chances are they will simply ignore you rather than risk starting a time-zapping dialogue.
Google or another search engine is the obvious way to search for relevant journalists. This method can be particularly effective if you are looking for journalists or media outlets with a specialism in a particular subject.
A quick scan of the web can bring up publications or freelance writers or broadcast professionals who you might not otherwise have come across.
Most freelance journalists have a web presence showcasing their work, complete with contact details – usually a mobile number as well as an email address. Making friends with an interested freelancer can sometimes pay dividends as they will need to make your story sound as exciting as possible and ‘sell’ it in to their media contacts.
Search their media outlet’s website
Another clear way to find the contact details of a journalist is to visit the website of the publication they work for. There should be a ‘contact us’ bar visible towards the top of the homepage somewhere, often to the right – though outlets that field large numbers of enquiries sometimes ‘hide’ this link a little, perhaps at the foot of the homepage, precisely because they do not want to be bombarded with irrelevant material or constantly ringing phones.
All BBC journalists have their own email address, for example, but they don’t tend to be published online, so that the majority of ‘cold’ approaches about stories – from people they perhaps have not dealt with before – can be filtered through communal inboxes.
This is also true of the sort of media that attracts avid fans and followers – ones covering fashion, music, gaming, for example – who may look to avoid constant contact with enthusiastic amateurs, so that they can actually get their work done!
Go to the contacts panel in print publications
In print, the principle of a list of contact details is the same. Newspapers and magazines traditionally feature a contacts panel, somewhere on a left-hand page near the beginning of the publication, often inside the font cover.
This usually includes a list of journalists and publishing professionals such as advertising and distribution staff, with phone numbers, email addresses and perhaps also where to find them on social media.
As with ‘contact us’ lists on the web, choosing the right person to get in touch with can be a task in itself. If in doubt, you could call before you email to make sure you are approaching the journalist who is most likely to be interested in what you have to say.
But, finally, be wary of calling to say: “Have you got my press release?”. Journalists hate this.
Yes, of course you want to pick up the phone if you’ve heard nothing – and by all means email one more time – but ultimately you must respect that the journalist decided your story wasn’t for them this time.