10 tools to help PR pros research journalists

For better media relations, channel your inner detective.

It’s crucial to comb information and pinpoint the right reporter.

Use this guide to research journalists and understand their beats. Doing so
will increase interest in your story, alert you to potential conflicts and
identify traits that could help you forge a bond with a particular


. The King Kong of media relations directories swells with 1.6 million
media contacts (including 300,000 digital influencers) in its searchable
database. The bulk of Cision’s data is provided by journalists themselves.
You get the basics, such as the journalist’s name, email address, phone
number, beat, pitching tips and preferred contact methods.

2. Muck Rack. Here’s a
sample Muck Rack profile page on The Wall Street Journal, with clickable links to bios and
recent articles published by WSJ staff.

3. LinkedIn. More than 80 percent of journalists boast a
LinkedIn profile, offering background on the reporter’s career, educational
background and awards. Even better, many journalists post a link to their
personal websites, which might promote their freelance writing or a book
they’ve published.

4. Twitter. A journalist’s bio often is more revealing than the
official newsroom bio or Cision profile. Here’s senior Newsweek
Ross Schneiderman’s Twitter profile:
“Tracksuit enthusiast, Jiu-Jitsu novice and hot collector. Loves Philip
Roth and Ghostface Killah. Formerly at WSJ, ESPN and NYT.”

5. Media Bistro. A resource more for writers than for PR
pros, this
New York-based web community offers portfolios for freelance journalists, along with in-depth interviews . If you’re a PR pro, do not miss MediaBistro’s free “Mastheads
and Editorial Calendar” pages, which give one-click access to editorial
calendars and lists of in-house reporters at magazines from Allure
to Wired.

6. Response Source. Downsizing of newsrooms has led
editors at national media outlets to assign more and more stories to
freelancers, rather than to in-house staff. PR pros will find London-based
Response Source helpful, with its profiles of
8,800 freelance writers.

7. Newsroom staff directories. Major media outlets,
especially daily newspapers, post easy-to-navigate directories of staff,
with surprisingly revealing bios. The Boston Globe’s health care
writer Robert Weisman’s staff page, which
includes a video interview with Weisman, his direct line and his most
recent articles, so you can assess his interests and tone.

8. Media portfolio sites. Many journalists, especially
freelancers, post biographical profiles and portfolios of their writing on
directory sites like
clippings.me. Here’s the
clippings.me directory of business journalists. As was mentioned earlier, they maintain their own websites, such as those

executive deputy for health, Jeannie Kim, and the personal website for

senior food and drink editor, Kat Kinsman.

NewsBios has 15,000 dossiers on journalists from “more than 60 sources of public
information” and proprietary databases. This Denver-based service promises
to reveal “personal and professional background information on each
journalist that might influence the prism through which they view the
world.” The data about journalists include family relationships, life
experiences, hobbies, personal tastes, what their spouses do for a living,
and “job-related events that are seldom, if ever, reflected in their
authorized biographies.”

10. YouTube has 1.3 billion users in 88 countries watching
3.2 billion hours of monthly video content—and is a powerhouse journalist
research tool.

[FREE DOWNLOAD: How reporters use social media in their jobs]

Let us know your favorite tools for understanding the journalists you’re

Paul Maccabee is president at Minneapolis-based Maccabee. A version of
this post originally appeared on


with Q&A from Muck Rack CEO Greg Galant and NewsBios founder Dean

(Image via)

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