Getting the contact details of journalists you want to target is an important part of any good marketing/pr strategy. But, using mass marketing and outreach lists has always felt kinda scummy…particularly the ‘bought in’ lists. TechCrunch even went so far as to publicly publish all their email addresses to prevent companies selling them.
Email spam really grinds my gears, because it’s usually very badly targeted – if at all) which makes it incredibly difficult for authors to sift through through their email and find the genuinely interesting, relevant content. As a result, whether you’re using a mass list or not, your content often doesn’t reach the right people because it’s either not relevant or it just gets lost in the fray.
– img from: dailyvowelmovements.com
The simple truth is that mass emailing a generic list just doesn’t work. All it does is add to the noise and make your story look undesirable. So, why do people do it? My assumption is that a lot of people do it because it’s easy and people are playing a numbers game. The perception is that finding and targeting relevant authors is time consuming and requires a lot more effort than buying a list.
But, it doesn’t have to be. I’ve devised a simple – seriously there’s only 3 steps – guide to curating your own targeted list of authors. These self-generated author contact lists are guaranteed to work much better than buying a mass list. Not to mention they’ll save you from giving authors a rage induced aneurysm.
Step 1: Select the publications you want to be in
Make a list of all the publications you want to be featured in. Be realistic here – don’t just pick the NY Times and think that’ll work. In reality, you’re generally better off going after smaller publications and blogs with readership that closely matches your ideal client or customer. You’ll get better conversions that way.
Step 2: Crawl the content
Next, you will need to use a web data extraction tool, such as import.io, to crawl each publication and get all the relevant data into a spreadsheet.
You will need the following:
- Blog Post Title (article title)
- Blog Post text (article text)
- Author Name
- Authors Contact Details
- …any other relevant data
Once you’ve crawled all the content, you’ll want to download it into a spreadsheet.
Here is a link to the crawler I used: https://import.io/data/set (feel free to clone it, and/or improve it).
Step 3: Filter and Contact
Filter that table by searching for keywords in the titles and/or text field that relate to your business/content. This will narrow down the list of potential authors to contact significantly, so that it becomes manageable to contact them individually via email or twitter.
Here is a dataset I quickly put together from a popular blog: ExampleCSV.xlsx
A quick filter on the text field for “lead generation” brings up seven different articles that mention ‘lead generation’ from seven different authors across the topics of:
- Growth Strategies
- Content Strategy
- Social Media Marketing
From just one website crawl and one keyword filter, I can already see five relevant authors I want to get in touch with. Of course, you should have several keywords and several sites in your outreach targets for each content piece you aim to create.
Contact the Authors
Now that you have your list of authors who are likely to be interested in your content/business it’s time to contact them. This isn’t a post about how to write good content or a pitch letter, so I’ll leave that to the experts. Generally, a good tip when deciding what content to write, is to look at what the top topics that came back from the search results were and try to tie in with those trends.
Once you’ve written (or at least decided on) your content; you can start sending your outreach emails. You should have enough information on each author to send them an individual pitch which they will find interesting, you can even cite one of their other articles on the same topic.
Note: A lot of authors will only share their twitter (or other social) handle. If this is the case there are plenty of tools you can use to contact them, don’t limit yourself to email.
Have fun, and happy author engaging.