I can assure you that you will have far more success reaching out to media contacts directly. Here’s how to find them.
Nearly all of the major media outlets have websites with easy access to contact information for reporters, editors, and producers. In fact, they make it almost ridiculously easy to find email information because they need story ideas! While this information is easy to locate, the research can take time. You should always start with local media, since being a local resident will help you get coverage. Look for contacts at newspapers, magazines, morning news shows, and talk radio. Also look for national reporters whose work you are familiar with and who you think would be likely to write the story you want to pitch.
You can skip all the time-consuming research and buy a media list. Two reputable sources: Cision’s media database, formerly Bacon’s (http://us.cision.com/index.asp) and Gebbie Press (http://gebbiepress.com).
Just about anyone who is anyone is on LinkedIn now. You can use the Advanced Search feature to locate users by keywords, company name, publication name, or job title. If you’re not yet connected, you’ll need to either request an introduction from a mutual friend or pay to upgrade your LinkedIn account so that you can email contacts outside of your network. You can also track down a contact name, return to Google, and search for an email address.
Use the search engine to search for media sources. For example, if you want to reach media in your old home town, you can search Google for “newspaper Indianapolis,” “news Indianapolis,” “radio Indianapolis,” etc. You can also search for terms like “list of weekly newspapers.” Smaller publications like hometown magazines and newspapers are great sources for getting coverage.
Be on the Lookout
Whether you’re surfing social media or reading a magazine in your doctor’s office lobby, keep an eye out for reporters who write about topics related to what you do. Most reporters have a specialty area of focus. If a reporter writes about the stock market, he probably won’t be writing about the latest in cake decorating, so find the reporters who can connect with your message and reach out. Even if you’re simply offering a compliment on a great story with a quick note that says you’re available as a source if the reporter writes a follow-up article, you have opened up a line of communication. It might sound crazy, but reporters have databases of contacts and you never know when you might rise from the archives.
Reporters are like any other business contact. You can build and maintain a relationship with them over time. If you prove to be a good source for interviews, there is a very good chance the reporter will reach out to you again in the future. And you can also contact the reporter again several months later. Remind him that you contributed to a previous article and send another pitch. I maintain relationships with several reporters both locally and nationally. It’s a mutually beneficial relationship since they know they can rely on me to respond quickly and deliver useful answers, and in turn I get repeat coverage in various publications. You can even become a regular guest on your local morning news program by serving as the local health expert or clutter clearing resource. If you do your job well and get to know the producers and reporters, you can get invited back several times each year.
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