Thursday, February 2, 2012

How to find media contact information

While reporters are eager to get the latest scoop, they also are awfully busy people. They are constantly on deadline, and therefore don't want to get inundated with e-mails. As a result, reporters sometimes make it a little difficult to connect with them for pitches.

So how does one get media contact information?

Well, the best approach is to subscribe to a professional database like Cision and Vocus. With these databases, reporters' information is regularly updated, and there also is the ability to distribute media materials directly to reporters through the database.

Here are some options if you do not have access to Cision or Vocus:

  1. Media outlet websites. If you know the media outlet that you want to reach, check out its website. Often there will be a "Contact Us" or "Staff Directory" page. While these pages may not be highly prominent on the site, you can use Google for a site search. For instance, here's how I find the staff directory for the StarTribune using Google:  "Staff Directory" site:www.startribune.com
  2. Twitter. There are many lists on the Internet of journalists who are on Twitter. Start following the journalists that are of interest to you; if they happen to follow you back, then you can send them a direct message.
  3. Help a Reporter Out (HARO). With HARO, journalists post their queries -- the news stories for which they need sources. By taking a look at these queries, you will be able to get a sense of which reporters are covering the stories in your key topic areas.
  4. Bylines. Many reporters have their e-mail address or other contact information next to their byline or the end of the article; some TV reporters have their e-mail address under their name on the screen.
So, in essence, if you do not have Cision or Vocus, one of the best ways to get in touch with reporters is to be "media aware." This involves keeping your eyes peeled and ears tuned in for reporters that might be interested in your story. Developing relationships with those reporters will help them to be more receptive to your pitch.

Finally, you could always contact the main number for the media outlet and go through the operator; it's easier when you have the direct line to a reporter, though.
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