Link building is getting harder.
Good links are difficult to obtain because seemingly every website is after them, overwhelming publishers with link requests. One of the few link-building tactics that remains effective is journalist outreach.
Journalists are usually receptive to article ideas and pitches. The key is suggesting a compelling topic, one that’s worth addressing. Examples are original research and expert analysis on a trending topic. Targeting local journalists can yield results, too.
But even without a pitch, developing relationships with journalists in your niche will build trust, resulting in potential coverage and citations.
The first step is to locate those individuals. Here are three tools to help.
Tools to Reach Journalists
Twitter bio search. In my experience, Twitter is reporters’ favorite social media network. They use the site to find sources, poll their followers, and broadcast their content.
Twitter search includes “People.” Type a keyword in combination with “reporter” or “journalist” — for example, “ecommerce reporter.”
Even better, consider using Followerwonk, a third-party tool. Followerwonk’s bio search is more powerful than Twitter’s.
In Followerwonk, select the option “search Twitter bios only.”
Those results contain helpful metrics for each profile, such as account age and the number of tweets.
To remove unrelated profiles, I typically include the publication name or URL in the search query. For example, to reach a journalist at The New York Times who covers marketing topics, I would search “marketing @nytimes.”
The search feature on Followerwonk is free to use with no volume caps.
Buzzsumo offers a powerful journalist-focused filter in its “Content Analyzer” section. Search for the topic of your pitch. Keep the filter at “View content written only by journalists” to receive results solely from them. Click “Journalist” next to the reporter’s name to read her profile.
Scanning the most recent articles by those journalists can indicate whether their expertise and assignments align with your niche.
Experiment with Buzzsumo’s filters. For example, you could find reporters who covered your topic in the past day or week. You can limit results to B2B publications and even include or exclude large or small ones.
Buzzsumo also shows the reporter’s Twitter bio and the publications he writes for. Create an alert for any journalist to receive notifications of new articles.
Buzzsumo’s prices start at $99 per month, which includes Content Analyzer and Journalist Profiles.
Tweetdeck is not an outreach tool. I use it to locate reporters who match my niche.
I then “Follow” those reporters and add them to a separate Twitter list to keep up with their tweets. It’s a simple process on Tweetdeck’s desktop version: Create a new column for that list.
Afterward I only have to open Tweetdeck occasionally and check that column to know what my selected journalists are up to. It’s a quick and productive way to keep in touch with reporters, avoiding an all-day outreach task. It also helps understand their interests, expertise, and publishing schedule.
Once I’ve identified reporters on Twitter, I try to locate them on Instagram and Linkedin. You never know their preferred channel for dialog.
Tweetdeck is free. Use it to interact and manage your Twitter inbox, even for multiple accounts — such as an account solely for interacting with journalists.
An effective journalist outreach strategy focuses on the long-term relationship, not an immediate need. Get to know the reporters in your niche. Read their published work, talk to them on Twitter, and develop an understanding of their needs. The best outreach is in-house and direct, not via public relations firms.