At BlueGlass, one of the most important parts of our content marketing toolbox is our ability to get the great content we create published on or syndicated to top-tier sites and blogs with active and engaged readers.
By creating engaging, interesting, and shareable content, we have the requisite base for providing value to the publishers we reach out to, but the difficulty really lies in finding the valuable connections to publishers in the first place. Just uncovering the contact information of elusive content publishers, writers, or editors can seem an impossible task.
This article serves as part one in our “Mastering Blogger Outreach” series and will cover tips, tools, and techniques that are extremely useful during the early stages of blogger outreach. The decision makers at most top-tier publishers rarely make their contact information easy to find, but with these tips, getting that “in” with a potential publisher might get easier.
Email is Best
As a general rule of thumb, contacting someone via email will usually get you the best response. Social profile contact information can be useful, but you should usually be going for email. It will generally get you a considerably higher read and response rate than if you try to contact someone through Twitter, Facebook, or other social networks.
Be Polite and Offer Value
Writers, editors, and other content publishers at popular sites don’t often release their email addresses in a very public way to avoid being inundated by requests. This, however, doesn’t mean that they are impossible to contact. If you’ve done a great job in sleuthing them out, make sure you approach them carefully.
Be sure you are offering them something of value. No one likes to be asked to do a favor from a perfect stranger. Give them a reason to want to post the content you are pitching them by making the content interesting and relevant to their readers.
Your email should never feel templated. When you reach out, include information about why you are contacting that person over someone else.
Tell them what you like about their writing, their section, or their site in general. Tie in the content you are pitching to them to something they have written about before. If you aren’t sure the person you are contacting is going to like the content you are pitching them, don’t bother.
Finding good blogger outreach targets could be a blog post entirely of its own (and probably will be sometime soon). But for the purposes of this post, we will assume you already have a collection of potential publishers you feel would be a good fit for your content and are now ready to start looking for the contact information of those who actually publish on the blog or site.
First, consider who the most appropriate person to contact might be for the content you are trying to place. This person could include the following:
If this is a very popular site (think: Mashable), you may want to skip trying to get this contact info. For high value smaller blogs that are popular within a niche, this may be exactly who you want to talk to.
Different sites approach content management differently. Some employ a general content editor who is in charge of all of the content placed on the site. Popular medium-sized sites often work this way.
For sites or blogs that publish a great deal of content (think: HuffingtonPost), there will often be several types of editors including top level editors, section editors, and even sub-section editors. Make sure you are pitching to the most appropriate editor.
Writers work beneath editors, but often have a great deal of autonomy and can sometimes publish content without an editors approval (depending on the site). Writers will likely be the contacts you are most interested in getting. If you fail at getting writers to pay attention, try their editor. If you can’t get an editors attention, go up another level.
The Tools of the Trade
After identifying the person most likely to publish your content, you are ready to make first contact! Unfortunately, with top-tier blogs, this is where things get tricky.
Many popular content publishers avoid making their contact information easy to find in an effort to avoid being flooded with emails. This doesn’t mean that they are averse to speaking to those who spend the time to find their real contact information in order to offer them something of real value. The primary goal should always be to develop a relationship by providing valuable content the content publisher’s audience will love.
The following tools, tips, and techniques will only help get you in contact with these hard-to-land content publishers, so remember to adhere to blogger outreach best practices in order to turn that first contact into a mutually beneficial ongoing relationship.
First things first. Look for the obvious and do your due diligence in finding contact information on the site or blog. Sometimes it isn’t immediately apparent, but is still there. Spend some time looking for the following:
- A contact us page
- A contact form
- An email link
If you are on a particularly cluttered site, search for “email.” If that doesn’t yield a result, view the page’s source, and search for an “@” symbol.
Many times bloggers will obscure their actual email address to avoid spammers from scraping their address from their blog. There are several common ways this can be done, so it can be worthwile to search for these as well:
Additionally, here are a few more ways email addresses can be obscured.
Once you have determined that your desired contact has not made their email address immediately apparent on their site, start with a few tried and true tools that look for contact information elsewhere on the web. There are many that can help you find contact information, but here are a few of the best…
Jigsaw is a unique contact information search site that relies on user-generated content; it’s basically a giant collaborative rolodex. In order to look at the contact information of an individual on the site, you’re required to upload the complete contact information of one of your own contacts. By uploading your own contacts, you build credits that can then be exchanged for the contact information of others on the site.
Because contact information can be provided by anyone, and the information is required to be complete (including phone, email, full name, and mailing address) you can often times find contact information that is simply unavailable elsewhere online. The service can be so effective, it has taken significant criticism for making it too easy to find the contact info of high level individuals.
People Search Engines
There are many search engines that parse through white pages, social networks, public records, and other places where personal contact information accumulates. These “people search engines” can be extremely helpful in locating information on just about anyone, including the contact info of an elusive blogger outreach prospect. If these don’t yield contact info, they will often at least give you a few new clues to continue your search with.
- Pipl.com – This tool is great for full name searches or username searches (example shown above). It also allows you to narrow your search by location which can be useful for common names.
- 123people.com – This provides information on many different segments, pulling from public records, social media accounts, search engine results, and more. It is very well-organized and tends to be quite accurate.
- Peekyou.com – This is a more social network-centric search tool and is excellent at finding obscure profiles. Peekyou also has some nice tools to help you refine your searches to find exactly the information you are looking for.
- Zabasearch.com – This tool is creepily good at returning phone number and address information. It is based on public records. While I wouldn’t recommend calling a potential contact before reaching out through email, I’ve found that searching for that phone number in Google will very often get you additional contact info like an email address.
- Spokeo.com – This is another very comprehensive people search tool that aggregates from social media, traditional search, public records, and membership sites. If the others don’t net you anything, you may want to give this a shot. For some information you will be required to pay.
- Zoominfo.com – This is a job-related people search engine. It uses similar sources as the others but also includes articles and mentions of that person from other sites online. If all else fails, try this one.
While several of the people search engines mentioned above also aggregate Whois data, it is worthy of its own mention. Whois is a public record of domain ownership. When you are looking for the contact information of a site owner, this is one of the first places you should look. They generally list the contact info of the primary owner of the domain (though sometimes this is obscured).
Techniques of the Trade
Any good detective knows that each clue, no matter how small, can be a potential way to catch a suspect. You should look at each piece of information you find on a potential contact as a new clue and a new way to find the contact information you are really looking for.
If you have exhausted the online tools available to you and still have not found the contact information you are looking for, you may want to take it a step further and really get sleuthy!
Here are a few techniques for finding contact info when you have failed with tools…
Information Stringing on Google
Use Google to expand on the information you found using tools.
Say for instance all you start with is a first and last name. Then using the people search tools mentioned above, you figured out they are associated with a user name of “x” but nothing else. Go to Google and search that username. Use each piece of information as a new starting point until you have found that elusive email or contact info you are looking for.
Guessing Contact Info
Oftentimes an unlisted email address will be as simple to find by just guessing. An extremely typical email combination is simply “email@example.com.”
A great way to automate this process is to install the tool Rapportive. This tool automatically shows contact information associated with an email address within Gmail as you type it. Once you have installed Rapportive, simply guess at email addresses. When Rapportive returns information, you probably have a real address.
Try the following addresses in your guessing:
first initial +last firstname.lastname@example.org
first name+last email@example.com
first initial+last firstname.lastname@example.org
first initial+last email@example.com
If their blog or site name doesnt work, try gmail.com, yahoo.com, and msn.com as well.
Alternatively to using Rapportive, you can try Mailtester.com to see if an email address exists.
Google Search Strings
Sometimes your best bet may simply be some old fashioned Google-fu. By utilizing Google’s search operators in the right way, you can often uncover hard to find contact information.
Try enclosing the persons name in quotes, like “John Smith”. Try to include other relevant, but unique keywords to help identify this person over others. Additional search queries including like their profession, employer, location, phone number, or screen name can work very well.
Additionally, try searching for the person’s name in quotes within a site search. For example: Site:URLofSiteContactWritesFor “Conctact’s Name”. Sometimes the contact information for the person you are looking for will be buried in an obscure contact-us page, or company directory page. This type of search will easily turn up these pages.
Lastly, when doing these types of searches on Google, make sure you go through more than just the first page. Oftentimes contact information will be found on pages 2-3-4. With these more general searches you will often find that the contact you are looking for is associated with multiple blogs. While their @bigdomain.com email won’t be listed, you can usually find a smaller blog they write for that includes their email.
Social Network Searching
The “people search” engines listed earlier are generally your best bet for finding social networking profiles, but don’t be afraid to go directly to these sites and utilize their search functions.
Facebook’s search can be particularly effective if the potential contact has a unique name, or you know where they are located.
Try searching Twitter as well. Sometimes Twitter pages will have contact information embedded in the background image, making it uncrawlable for search engines, but very obvious if you simply take the time to look at your potential contact’s twitter page.
As far as social networks go, LinkedIn is probably one of your best bets for finding hard to get contact information. Unfortunately, LinkedIn places some restrictions on your ability to find others. Unless you have a paid account (and if you do blogger outreach, you probably should) you will not see everyone on LinkedIn when you use the internal search tool and you will be limited to a certain number based on your connections. Additionally, LinkedIn limits your search criteria, sometimes making it difficult to find the person you are looking for.
Fortunately, Google indexes all public LinkedIn profiles, making it possible to search for LinkedIn profiles using Google.
Google Searching on LinkedIn – An Example
Copy and paste the following search string into Google:
site:www.linkedin.com intitle:linkedin (“Name” AND “Company Name” AND “City”) -intitle:profile -intitle:updated -intitle:blog -intitle:directory -intitle:jobs -intitle:groups -intitle:events -intitle:answers
The variables in the parentheses can be changed depending on who you are looking for, but leave the rest. These modifiers force Google to look only withing people’s profiles, excluding extraneous data that would cloud your results.
If you have yet to find the contact information you are looking for using the tools and techniques listed above, you should definitely consider that your target contact simply does not want to be bothered.
But, if you’re still determined to make that contact and have failed using all of the tips above, there are still a few more tricks you may want to try before giving up all together. Use these with caution, because contacting someone who is trying to avoid all contact will generally not get you a positive response if you do happen to sleuth them out.
Find Past Coworkers
Interestingly, former employees generally are liberal about giving away the contact information for people they used to work for. In order to find these people, type the company name in a LinkedIn people search. Then, filter results by past company.
Ideally, look for someone who has worked at the company recently. Once you find their contact information, send them a quick note about who you are trying to reach, and why. Tell them why the person you are looking for would be interested in hearing from you.
Often times bloggers will use the same photo for all of their social media profiles, blogs, and sites. This can be a good thing to do in terms of personal branding, but it also enables a really unique way to find that person online.
Once you’ve found the image of the person who’s contact information you are looking for, go to Tineye.com and upload or paste the URL of the image into their search tool. Tineye will go out and find other places online where that image has been used and return the results to you.
This trick sometimes turns up a result when all others have failed…
By improving your ability to find essential contacts in the blogger outreach process, you give yourself a significant competitive advantage over others who are trying to get their content published.
Look out for future posts on our “Mastering Blogger Outreach” series that will help you hone your blogger outreach skills even further, giving you the in-depth information you need to start, grow, and nurture mutually beneficial relationships with some of the top content publishers online.