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36 Authoritative Outreach Tips for Digital PR Specialists

This article was originally published on Moz, and is republished here with permission.

Whether you’ve been in the digital PR biz for years or you’re a recent grad starting your first job, you stand to benefit from a few tips for building and maintaining valuable relationships with influencers at target publications.

That’s why I’ve teamed up with my fellow digital PR specialists at Clearlink to compile a list of our favorite outreach tactics. Start implementing any of these 36 authoritative tips and you’ll be on your way to building better relationships and increasing your reach.

Finding an Email Address

1. Share Prospect Lists via BuzzStream

BuzzStream allows you to share prospect lists with other PR specialists so you can view one another’s notes on specific publications and their staffs. You can use this tool to see which email templates have worked for your coworkers in the past and which contacts they’ve found that you haven’t. Knowing the history of communication between that publication and your colleagues is essential to personalizing your own pitches and offering unique value.

2. Use Rapportive to Narrow Down Your Guesses

Can’t find an email? Rapportive might be your answer. This Gmail plugin helps you pull up email addresses for your target editors and journalists, based on guesses you enter into the “recipient” line of a new email. You can make up to five guesses at a time. When you find a winner, you’ll see the full name and image connected to the recipient’s LinkedIn profile pop up to the right of your screen.

3. Search Twitter for Email Addresses

If Rapportive turns up dry, try taking your search to Twitter. Simply search your target’s full name plus the word “email” to see if they’ve tweeted it back to others who have requested it before. For example, to find mine you could search “Cosette Jarrett email” to see if it turns up.

4. Check Annual Reports

If you’re looking for the contact info of higher-ups at a company or publication, annual reports could be a great place to look. Search Google for the reports, then scroll to the bottom to see if they’ve included contact info.

5. Find Your Target on YouTube

Some journalists and bloggers have YouTube channels where they publish additional work. My team has often found contact info in the “about” pages of our targets’ YouTube channels.

6. Get the Datanyze Insider Chrome Extension

This Chrome extension helps you find the right email address for a given journalist in a process that is a bit simpler than Rapportive’s process. Once you’ve signed up and downloaded the extension, you can highlight the names of your target journalists, editors, and bloggers to get their name in the proper email address format for their publication.

In my example below, I highlighted my own name and right-clicked to run it through Datanyze for Tech.co. Although I don’t have a Tech.co email address, it did pull up the correct email format for staff at the publication.

7. Check Their Facebook Profile’s “About” Section

Often, companies will provide an email address in the “about” section of its profile pages. If the email listed is not for the department you’re trying to reach, ask them to put you in touch with your desired contact.

8. Search LinkedIn

LinkedIn is a fantastic place to look for contact info for journalists and editors. Once you’ve found the person you’re looking for using a search like “Editor in Chief at CNET,” click to view their profile. Even if you’re not connected, it is possible that they’ve listed their email publicly under the “Contact Info” tab below their profile picture.

9. Google Their Google+ Profile

Another place to look for the proper email for your target is their Google+ page. If they have an email address listed, it will be under the “about” section next to “posts.” If it’s not there, look at all of the publications they have contributed to (also on this page) and try to find an email address at each of those sites under their author bio.

10. Run the Email Address though MailTester

To test an email address to make sure it’s still active, you can run it through MailTester. This will give you a green result if the email is in use and a red result if it’s not. The example below shows a correct match.

Personalizing Your Pitch

11. Follow Your Target’s Twitter Feed

Generic pitches don’t work anymore. If you want to build relationships at your target publications, you have to get personal. A great way to do this is to check the Twitter feeds of the journalists/editors you plan to pitch. Look for what is important to them and what they have written about recently, then try to tie those things into your pitch to let them know you’ve done your research.

Generic pitches don’t work anymore. If you want to build relationships at your target publications, you have to get personal

12. Read Their Personal Website

Another great way to get to know the person you plan to pitch is to check out their personal website. This will likely come up when you search their name on Google, but it’s also commonly listed on their Twitter profile. Their website will help you discover what they are interested in, what topics they like to write about, and generally what makes them tick. You might also find solid contact info on their personal site, too.

13. Scope Out Pinterest

If you’re looking for a blogger’s interests to personalize your pitch, perhaps one of the best places to look outside of their blog is their Pinterest board. Scope out their boards to see if you share any common interests that you could bring up in your pitch.

14. Google a Writer’s Byline

Another important part of getting to know the person you’re pitching is researching what they like to write about. When you search a target journalist or blogger’s byline, you can see where they’ve written outside of their current place of employment. Maybe you’ve written for some of the same publications and could bring that up in your introduction. Perhaps you could learn more about their writing beat based on what they’ve written elsewhere.

15. Identify Alma Mater Alumni

Run a LinkedIn search to find others who graduated from your college or university. Start by searching your target publication’s name in the search bar, then scroll down to find the spot to filter by school on the left side of the results. Chances are, you’ll find at least a few who work at your target publications. Discussing your shared alma mater could help you break the ice before your “ask.”

16. Find Current Interns

I’ve used sites like LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook to find people who interned for a target company or blog network, and then I emailed them to ask for advice on how best to pitch current editors. You’d be surprised how much interns learn about editors beyond just their favorite type of coffee.

17. Look for Portfolio Profiles

Many journalists have portfolio profiles on sites like clippings.me. They will often post their favorite or best performing articles there. This can be a good indicator of what type of pitches they will like and what issues are important to them.

18. Reach Out to Bloggers Where They’re Most Comfortable

Different types of bloggers will be active on different sites, so reach out to them where they are most comfortable. For a lot of home and family bloggers, for example, Pinterest is home. Think about how you can establish genuine connections through their posts. Once you’ve introduced yourself by interacting with their boards, reach out from your personal account with an ask that’s tailored to the blogger’s beat and interests.

19. Match Your Tone to Your Target

Check out your target’s tweets and articles. Are they a casual or formal writer?  Match your tone to the journalist’s most frequently used tone to make your pitch more appealing to them.

20. Pay Attention to Time Zones

It’s important to keep time zones in mind before you send your pitch. Find out what city the journalist or editor lives in and adjust your sending time accordingly. In most cases, Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn can help you find the correct city of residence. Try not to pitch before they start their workday or after they’ve ended it.

Building Valuable Relationships

21. Double Check Their Employment Status

Before you spend your time investing in a relationship with a journalist at a major publication, it’s worthwhile to make sure they are still writing there. You can run a site search to find their most recent article to figure this out. For example, below I’ve searched my own name on a publication I regularly write for to find my most recent article.

22. Conduct an Instagram Search

At the very least, the person on the receiving end of your pitch wants to know you’re not a robot. If you’ve got an appropriate Instagram, try finding your target reporters and editors there. Follow them for a bit and like the pictures you actually find interesting and fun. This will help you introduce yourself in a unique way so your pitch isn’t completely cold when you send it later.

23. Interact with Their Most Recent Article

A great way to show that you’re genuinely interested in a reporter or blogger’s work is to comment on their recent articles, ask questions, and share your own opinions. Doing so in a sincere way can trigger positive name recognition when they get your pitch later.

24. Reach Out via Facebook

Once again, the person on the receiving end of your pitch wants to know that you are, in fact, a human. Sometimes reaching out via Facebook can help you establish this. Reaching out via Messenger is a great idea if you can’t track down a proper email address.

25. Connect on LinkedIn

Perhaps one of the best ways to build a relationship with a journalist or editor is to send a connection request on LinkedIn. This keeps things professional and allows them to check out your writing credentials, too. Make sure you update your profile appropriately before sending the connection request.

26. Form a Twitter Bond

A great way to start engaging with a journalist before you pitch is to attempt to spark a Twitter bond. Find common interests and strike up Twitter conversations from their recent tweets that interest you. Don’t tweet generic comments or a link to your most recent project, though. They already get a lot of that. Be real and treat them like a (professional) friend, rather than a potential business opportunity.

27. Check Twitter Hashtags for Influencers

Go through Twitter hashtags to find influencers within your area of expertise. For example, I work with tech brands, so I was active in the #CES feed throughout the event. Find posts that are meaningful to you and engage with those who published them. You’ll learn more about your industry while making valuable connections.

28. Use HARO in Reverse

The best way to get something is to give something first. For your next article, seek expert advice from others in your industry on HARO. Once you’ve gotten a few responses, keep the relationship going beyond the piece’s publication date. Most respondents are PR people who will offer additional opportunities for coverage and even future story ideas.

29. Plan an “Accidental” Run-in

Check out your target journalists’ social media feeds (especially Twitter) to find out which events they’re attending next. Arrange to attend the same events—not only to learn more about your industry but also to plan a potential opportunity to meet your target journalists in person.

Guaranteeing Success Following Initial Outreach

30. Always Follow Up! Always!

If you feel insecure about following up after a person or publication has not responded to your email, stop. Follow-up is an essential component in any successful outreach plan. You’d be surprised how many publications really did miss your first email or simply forgot to respond.

If you feel insecure about following up after a person or publication has not responded to your email, stop. Follow-up is an essential component in any successful outreach plan

31. Follow Up on HARO Opportunities, Too

HARO is a fantastic tool for landing brand mentions and quality links. You should be following up after every initial pitch. Find the personal email of a journalist you recently pitched and send a quick follow-up to make sure the pitch you sent via HARO made it to their inbox.

32. Use Yesware for Email Tracking

The sad truth is that most of the outreach emails you send will yield little to no response. Although none of us can completely control whether or not the editor or journalist on the other end will respond, Yesware email tracking can at least tell us if and when our emails are opened. This helps with timing follow-up emails and lets you know if the potential problem was the subject line or the pitch itself.

33. Track Mass Outreach using BuzzStream

Similar to Yesware tracking, BuzzStream allows you to track the emails you send via the site. This is a great feature that allows you to track the mass outreach you conduct through BuzzStream as you would track the smaller outreach efforts you send through your personal email account.

34. Schedule Follow-ups with Boomerang

Boomerang can improve your outreach game by allowing you to schedule follow-ups for contacts who haven’t responded to your inquiries. This helps you keep track of the communication you need for effective outreach.

35. Don’t Stop at One Location

Most large publications have multiple offices—one in New York, one in London, one in Australia, etc. If Australia doesn’t answer, contact London. If London doesn’t answer, pitch New York.

Lexi Mills (a.k.a. the Outreach Goddess) said she once did this with a large publication. After being denied by the first office, she contacted another. The second office she pitched ended up running her story. Even better? The story was wildly successful!

36. Maintain Your Relationships

After you’ve taken the time to build a valuable relationship with an editor, journalist, PR specialist, or blogger, it’s important to stay in touch. If you’ve connected with them via your social channels, continue to engage with them on a regular basis. Maybe even send a quick email to give kudos when you come across an awesome post of theirs. Being a person who is genuinely interested in their work (even after they’ve done what you wanted them to) shows that you are a solid go-to for future projects.

Being a person who is genuinely interested in their work (even after they’ve done what you wanted them to) shows that you are a solid go-to for future projects

These tried-and-true tips have helped my team drum up killer links and brand mentions on sites for various well-known publications like Mashable, Elle Décor, Fast Company, Huffington Post, USA Today, and Daily Mail. Hopefully these tips will help you establish solid digital press coverage for your client or brand, as well.

Want to increase your brand's reach? Let's chat.

Contact Us

As one final closing tip, I recommend you continue to learn all that you can from industry influencers to keep up as the field continues to evolve and present new challenges. Sign up for our newsletter to get all the best marketing tips right in your inbox. Interested in joining our team? Check out our current openings.

Now it’s your turn. What are some outreach tips your team has used successfully?

Cosette Jarrett

Cosette is a senior outreach specialist at Clearlink. Her campaigns have been featured in several well-known publications, including TIME, The Wall Street Journal, Cosmopolitan Magazine, Teen Vogue, and GQ. She also enjoys writing about wellness, AI, and consumer tech topics. Follow her on Twitter @CosetteJarrett.

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