One of the common issues that comes up time and again, when I speak to people, is how to find the right media contacts.

Actually, finding the right media contacts isn’t that difficult. Where it usually goes horribly wrong is what very many people do once they’ve got hold of those contacts.

All too often the temptation is to send out mass emails that have no personalisation in the hope that something will stick. I know exactly what I do when I get an email like that. In fact, I get emails like that a lot – the other day someone was asking if they could do a guest post for the website on a subject completely unrelated to what I put out there. I was surprised to say the least. In another one, someone was asking me to include a link to their software product which aided keyword research and SEO. I think, if you are reading this, then you’ve twigged that that is not my field.

Anyhow, in both those examples, it was clear that the people who had contacted me had not looked at the website or done one iota of research. It’s a drag, it’s impolite, it’s unnecessary, it wastes everyone’s time, and, it doesn’t work. A random pitch email is like trying to hit the bullseye on a dart board in the dark. I prefer to turn the lights on and get a good look at the target, don’t you?

Twitter power

The Cision annual survey of UK journalists’ social media habits showed that Twitter is still the most popular social networking tool for journalists and that half of journalists say they couldn’t carry out their work without social media.

So, you’ve probably worked out part of the answer to ‘how do you stalk a journalist?’ Twitter can prove pretty handy in this respect but you don’t need a detailed research report to tell you that. I find it quite handy to connect with journalists via Twitter and also to follow what they are doing.

Don’t stalk journalists

But, it’s not all about Twitter. In fact, the question – how do you stalk a journalist? is a bit cheeky and a bit of a red herring really. You don’t stalk them at all. But, what you do do is find out where they hang out on social networks, follow what they are up to, share their content and reporting, answer their questions and share your knowledge and insight where it will be useful to them.

Find, listen, and engage instead

At this point you’re not concerned about pitching them, you’re only interested in getting information, in finding out what those journalists chat about and how they use social media to promote their content. And, when you know you’re not pitching then it takes all the fear out of connecting with them and chatting.

Also, these days, for many journalists, it’s not just about reporting or coming up with ideas for articles. It’s also about helping to spread the word, it’s about getting eyeballs on what they have written or produced.

Think about it, when people comment on your blog or share you content then it’s great, isn’t it? You can’t help but to be flattered. You’ll take notice of who comments and shares and whether there are any names that keep coming up time and again.

So, why not make it easy for yourself – comment and share and get into regular two way conversation. You’ll then find there’s no need to stalk much less chuck out hundreds of emails in the hope that something sticks with someone somewhere.

In a nutshell: finding media contacts isn’t that difficult, it’s what do you with the names you find that counts. And, that means avoiding the mass email blast that is such a big turn off and doesn’t work.

What are you doing to find and connect with journalists?

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