How to Find Email Addresses for PR & Marketing Campaigns

Public relations and marketing people spend much time searching for and other contact information.

Finding email addresses – ones that don’t bounce back and phone numbers is a mundane yet vital step to building relationships with bloggers, journalists and social media influencers. PR and marketing pros email people to obtain reviews of their products, report news about their companies, and mention their products in feature articles. They also email bloggers, editors and webmasters to add links to company websites from their websites.

Online tools for finding emails abound. More about that later. Before trying those online tools, first conduct manual research. One reason: It’s free. Second reason: It produces more reliable results. Email locating apps can deliver a significant number of invalid emails or emails of the wrong people, explain outreach experts familiar with the tools.

In addition, many tools only find email addresses that are associated with a domain name. In these days of consultants, freelancers and agencies, the person you’re seeking may not have an email associated with a corporate domain.

Manual Tricks for Finding Email Addresses

The first and most obvious step: Visit their website. View the contact page, typically under the About Us page. If you complete and submit the contact form, the message may get lost in the abyss of the customer service queue. Instead, look for a summary of key personnel under the heading Our Team, or something similar. Remember to check the footer or site map section at the bottom of the website.

Also, check for press releases or news announcements in online press rooms, also called press rooms or media centers. News announcements often include PR contacts.

Enter the person’s name in Google or Bing. Because many people have the same name, also enter their company name and perhaps their location and title, along with “contact” or “email.” For improved results, try advanced search operators such as “John Doe” AND contact OR email.

Google and Bing only use @ for social tags. But you can enter the company domain name prefaced by @ in quotes “@domainname.com” in the search engine DuckDuckGo, suggests Nick Churick, communications manager at ahrefs. It will reveal email addresses related to the domain if they’re publicly available.

Media Databases

In public relations, the commercial media databases from companies like Cision, Muck Rack, Agility PR and West UC form the foundation of customized media contact lists. Smaller companies and PR agencies often share the price of the annual media database subscription. Bigfish PR reviewed media databases in 2017, though things have changed since then with West UC having acquired MyMediaInfo from NASDAQ.

It’s a nightmare job for the media database companies to stay current with all the changes in reporter assignments and additions/departures of journalists. You can’t be certain of the accuracy of any specific listing. It’s worthwhile to double-check accuracy of all listings. Three ways to check: visit the website of the publication, call the switchboard, or find the journalist’s Twitter account. Many reporters can be reached through Twitter and will provide you their email address if you give them good reason to do so.

Association Membership Directories

Online membership directories can be a treasure trove of contact information. Search for associations in the job category (i.e. journalist) or industry (i.e. home furnishings) you’d like to reach. Include regional groups in your search. Then check if the association has an online membership directory. Many directories are restricted to members. If the membership list is crucial to your campaign, join the organization. Sometimes, getting the accurate contact information for only one member can be worth the price of membership. Caution: Do not spam the entire membership list – or even large numbers of members. Be very selective in your choice of members to contact.

The Email Guessing Game

If you know the person’s name and company, you can guess at their email address, when all else fails. Business emails follow similar patterns: typically full name or first initial and last name followed by the company domain name. Other possibilities include first name then last name initial or just first name. If you have one valid email, you’ll know the company’s pattern.

“Let’s be real: There aren’t too many different ways that companies both large and small format their email addresses,” writes David Farkas, founder of link-building agency The Upper Ranks, in an article for Moz.

Besides being annoying, excessive bounce backs can put your messages on blacklists and hurt your email deliverability, Farkas warns. To avoid that, use a tool such as Neverbounce that reports if addresses are valid, invalid or unknown.

While not free, the LinkedIn Sales Navigator for Gmail, a Chrome extension, can locate valid email addresses. After installing it, click the “Compose” button on Gmail, and paste email address possibilities into the “To” field. Gmail shows Google profiles associated with valid emails, and Sales Navigator shows LinkedIn accounts.

Other email-locator tools include That Email, Hunter and eMail-Prospector Pro. According to an ahref’s review, the numbers of free searches they allow and their accuracy vary. Using multiple email locator tools can improve accuracy.

Bottom Line: Online tools can help find email addresses, a mundane but critical PR and marketing task. Communications professionals who use the tools recommend conducting manual research first. Your own internet searches typically produce more accurate results.

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