Before I began my career in public relations, I had a small jewelry line. To promote my collection, I’d email fashion reporters and editors in the hopes of generating increased awareness of my brand through media coverage.
At the time, I didn’t know anything about ‘public relations’ and didn’t really know what I was doing. I spent hours in a now-defunct Borders right by Madison Square Garden in New York City, combing through magazines to find contact names in their mastheads. After writing down the names of the appropriate editors, I’d rush home to look them up online, hoping to piece together a list of email addresses I could use for my outreach.
Today, thankfully, there are far easier ways to find a reporter’s contact information. If you’re in the same boat I was years ago – wanting to secure media coverage, but lacking the contact information you need to do so – read on for a list of relatively efficient ways to find media email addresses.
1. Media Database
If you have the budget for it, a media database is a worthwhile expenditure.
There are several subscription-based media databases on the market, but Cision, Muck Rack, and Meltwater are three commonly used by PR professionals. (We use Cision at 418 Communications and have for years, very happily.) Each of these platforms offers instant access to hundreds of thousands – if not millions – of media email addresses, phone numbers, and detailed profile information.
2. Social Media
Nowadays, many reporters – particularly those who use social media for professional purposes –include their email in their social media profiles. Twitter, in particular, is a good place to look.
3. Recent Coverage
Some media outlets include their reporters’ email addresses on each reporter’s coverage. This seems to be the case quite often at local and regional newspapers, but several bigger outlets make email addresses available this way, too.
4. Digital Mastheads
If an outlet doesn’t include email addresses on a reporter’s stories, they might still make contact information available in their online masthead. Usually, the easiest way to find a masthead is with a simple Google search “[Outlet] masthead”.
5. Personal Website
Reporters – especially freelancers – often have personal websites, in addition to a profile on their outlet’s site. A quick search for the reporter’s name, along with the name of the outlet they write for regularly or have written for recently, should pull up a personal site – if they have one.
While some personal websites have a contact form, most seem to include an email address.
6. Outlet Email Formats
If all of the above tactics fail you, try to decipher a particular outlet’s email format. Most outlets stick to a uniform format (i.e. ‘FirstName.LastName@outlet.com) for their reporters and editors.
If you can find email addresses for several other reporters at your target outlet, try putting your target contact’s name into the same email format.
Media career site Ed2010 has a pretty good list of outlet-specific email formats. (Fun fact: I used this exact list when promoting my jewelry collection – and it helped lead to some major media hits!)
We also include an email formats list in our ‘The Templates’ package.
Once you’ve found the contact information you’re after, keep these pointers in mind before sending off your email pitches:
1. Be thoughtful in the emails you send, and do your best to ensure that your pitches are relevant and truly likely to be of interest to the contacts you target.
2. Don’t spam reporters. They receive dozens – if not more – of email pitches a day already, so be mindful of how often you’re sending emails to your newfound contacts.
3. This should go without saying, but: always be respectful to the contacts you’re pitching.
A version of this article first appeared on the 418 Communications blog.