By querying PR experts Mike Keaton and Gordon Mayer, I learned of four ways to find journalists, and their emails, to target with your press release.
1. Buy contacts from online sources. (The best way, but it costs.)
Mike Keaton, the PR and Communications Director of SCORE‘s national organization, explains: “you can find names and emails but you are most likely going to have to pay for them.” Gordon Mayer, Vice President of Community Media Workshop (CMW), concurs in his post On Press Releases and Pitching, “There’s no such thing as a free lunch or even free milk and cookies when it comes to accurate up-to-date contact information for journalists. This is one of the single biggest barriers to a democracy of information, and if you think about it, it’s an outrage that contact info for journalists is so hard to come by.”
For paid lists, Keaton suggests Mondo Times, Burrellesluce, PRNewswire and its PRToolkit and PRwebdirect. He observes that Mondo Times and PR Web are “great inexpensive options. “At a minimum, Mondo Times will list all the media in your area and link to their Web sites, so it can be good place to start your research if you do it on your own.”
In Illinois, Mayer rightly claims CMW’s Getting On the Air, Online and In Print “happens to be the best for the Chicago market (and we’re working on the rest of the Midwest, as much as we can)…” He also mentions: “Vocus, Cision, FinderBinder and Newsclip.”
If you plan to pitch a fair amount, Mayer recommends that you budget some money for up-to-date contacts. “It’s a cost of doing this type of business.”
2. Use Google. (Cheap but it’s work.)
If you can’t afford to buy a directory or online access to names, Keaton suggests that “You can find other options by searching with terms like “media lists” on Google.” Be sure to use the quotes around the words “media list.”
I tried this with Chicago and Lake County, but needed IL to get lists of Illinois media. For Chicago, a very competitive market, I got links of lists to purchase and some print websites, but no journalist names. For Evanston, a larger town, and Cook County, I got library links, paid links, and public television websites, places where I might have to dig for names and editorial areas. But when I tried “daily herald IL lifestyle editor” I hit a jackpot–a link to “Illinois features editors and education editors” on a site called PrepareTommorowsParents.org. Names might be stale, however.
3. Check a particular paper’s website. (Cheap and one-by-one effort.)
Looking at particular websites is, Keaton thinks, “the fastest way, since it’s immediate and usually the Web sites are up-to-date with their contact information. Many newspapers will try to “hide” this information by making contact pages hard to find, so it may take a few minutes of sleuthing per Web site.” Along these lines, Mayer recommends that you look for journalists’ names at an “About Us” link.
Rather than hunt through the site, I Googled “chicago tribune lifestyle editor” and emails of all the editors came up, including three assistant lifestyle editors. At least I have confidence that these names are current.
4. Read the local press and note journalists bylines and emails. (Cheap and an ongoing project.)
Says Keaton, “Some newspapers include the email address of the staff writer for each article, and that’s often all you need” Mayer adds, “TiVo the credits on your 10 o’clock news” to get contacts.
When you have your name and are ready to send the release, Keaton reminds us that “Most journalists prefer email pitching, or fax. Editors and writers can copy and paste the text and re-write it to fit their style. Mail or fax releases require someone to re-type them, which is more effort on the part of the newspaper, and thus less likely to be picked up.”
5. Get Journalists to Contact You!! (Way easier, if you want to pay)
Productivity and Communications Expert Peggy Duncan say: “The newsrooms are changing too rapidly every day to get a solid list. The best way is to get journalists to contact YOU instead of your trying to find the right one to pitch to about something that by some miracle they’d be interested in. And you can sign up for free/inexpensive services that send journalist queries to you.” These include PRLeads.com and HelpAReporter.com. To learn more, check out her slideshow “Shameless Self-Promotion: Do-It-Yourself PR” seminar,
There you have five ways to track down journalists in your niche. Build a list, get to know these people and your release just may get picked up or spark an article in their publication.
What’s your experience tracking down journalists in your niche? Please leave me a comment.
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