Digital PR is contingent on one thing—contacting the right people. When you’ve determined who the right journalists, editors, and influencers in your niche are, all you need is a way to reach them. Some journalists’ contact information is harder to reach than others. In this article, I’m going to share some of my best hacks for one of the most time-consuming aspects of digital outreach: finding email addresses.
We’ve all been there—after spending a lot of time and effort determining the perfect person to contact—you go to their homepage or author archive and realize their email isn’t listed.
What do you do? While you could give up and use a generic contact form—or worse, just look for another person to contact, there are some tricks you need to try before throwing in the towel.
Whether you’re reaching out to a blogger, a journalist at a top-tier publisher, or even a decision-maker at your dream client, here are five of my teams’ best hacks for making sure you’re able to reach the best person for your outreach.
Hack 1: Use Twitter Advanced Search
Did you know that journalists are the most verified profession on Twitter?
At Fractl, our outreach team contacts upwards of 100 journalists a day. While some journalists are harder-to-reach than others, many will include their email address on their Twitter bio.
If their email isn’t hiding in their Twitter bio, there is still another way you can use Twitter to determine their email.
Rather than outright tweeting at the person and asking for their email, you can see if they’ve already been asked.
You can use Twitter’s advanced search to find the last time your contact responded to this request.
Search for the terms (at) (dot) in “All these words” under the ‘Words” section
Enter their Twitter handle in “From these accounts” under the “People” section.
If, at any time, the journalist shared their email with someone in a Tweet, you will be able to find it this way.
Hack 2: Determine their company’s email format
Have your reached out to another person at this company or publisher before? If you have, do you notice any patterns about the way the email is formatted?
Often, company email addresses follow one or two specific formats. For small companies, it’s usually “email@example.com”
For larger, it could like “firstname.lastname@example.org” or
Try these common formats and then head over to https://verify-email.org/ to test them out. You don’t have to send an actual email to test it!
This email verification tool actually connects to the mail server and checks whether the mailbox exists or not.
This free tool will allow you to test 100 emails a month without making you pay.
For example, when I test email@example.com, the mailbox isn’t verified (because that’s not my email). However, when I just use my first name, the email is mailbox is confirmed.
Hack 3: Hunter.io
Hunter.io is one of my team’s favorite tools for automating the above process. Like verify-email.org, this tool allows you to find 100 email addresses a month without paying.
It has a handy extension that makes the research even more seamless.
Once you download the extension, the little orange dog icon will appear in the upper corner of your browser.
When you’re on the company or publisher page of the person you’re trying to reach, you can hit this extension and type in the name of the person you’re hoping to contact.
The extension will automatically create the most likely email format based on other emails that are listed with the organization.
For example, if I was looking for this writer, Hunter.io easily and quickly finds the most common email format for her.
Sometimes, the email is verified for you, and other times it’s not. If it’s not, head over to verify-email.org to test it out.
Hack 4: LinkedIn Sales Navigator
Once upon a time, the hottest Gmail plugin out there was Rapportive. It allowed you to test emails right in your inbox and if they existed, you would see their social profiles.
Rapportive was acquired by LinkedIn and now exists as “LinkedIn Sales Navigator”. Here’s how you can use it to find emails.
Once you’ve downloaded the extension for Gmail open up a new draft.
Type in the email you want to test. If the email isn’t associated with a LinkedIn account, the sidebar will read “Sorry, we couldn’t find a matching LinkedIn profile for this email address.”
If it is an email associated with a LinkedIn Account, the sidebar will automatically appear with the persons contact information, LinkedIn and other social profiles, and profile picture.
This tool is especially useful if you have already verified an email address, and want to make sure you’re contacting the correct person. For example, if two people share the same first name and work at the same organization, you may wish to contact one, but in fact have the wrong email.
Hack 5: Clearbit
Just like the LinkedIn Sales Navigator extension, the Clearbit extension works directly within Gmail.
First you have to download the extension, refresh your Gmail, and follow the instructions to connect Clearbit to your account. After that, you can begin using Clearbit to find email addresses.
Clearbit is very user friendly. Just click the icon in the upper right hand corner. Once there, search any company name. For example, type in my company, Fractl. What should come up is a list of employees within our organization and their job titles.
You can see how this tool would be particularly useful for sales and marketing teams seeking to reach out to potential new customers. It allows you to see in one window who the decision makers at the company are.
If you have the amazing content that’s newsworthy, surprising, and certain to earn lots of positive attention online, you only have one problem— how to conduct digital pr outreach successfully.
While it can be frustrating trying to find a contact’s email address, I hope these tricks will alleviate some of the stress and legwork that it takes when conducting digital outreach.
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