Seven Hills Communications
Small Business Marketing & Public Relations


Small Business Marketing & PR Advice


There is so much media out in the world right now that it can be completely overwhelming to figure out how to find the right reporters, writers or producers to cover your company. Public relations is a delicate balance: you need to find an outlet and a writer that reaches your target audience AND who feels you have something interesting enough to say that you make sense to write about.
When we start working with a new client, the first thing we do is research. We Google, search Twitter and use our media database to find reporters who we think are likely to cover our clients, see what they’ve written in the past and create a media list that includes their contact information, notes about prior coverage and our communications record with them. After doing this process for dozens of clients, here are our top 5 tips for finding reporters to cover your company.
1. Determine Who’s Covering Your Beat
If you haven’t gone to journalism school or aren’t a news geek, you may not realize that most reporters and producers cover a specific beat. This can be a geographical beat (very common for smaller newspapers, for example) or a topical beat (tech, startups, food, etc.). Once you understand this, it becomes easier to spot patterns in coverage and determine which reporters are consistently producing content on topic areas that align with your organization.
A few things to keep in mind:

  • Beats can go from general to specific. We like to note any particular quirks in a writer’s beat when we notice them, like specific categories they cover frequently or weekly columns, for example.
  • It’s often easy to find a reporter’s beat in their official bio or Twitter bio. They usually spell out their interests, so don’t overthink it.
  • The reporter’s beat should lead the style and content of your pitch. For most of our clients, we are pitching reporters working more than one beat – for example, entrepreneurship AND food – but we make sure to give the reporter the relevant info, not just a boilerplate pitch. What would they care about?

2. Check Out Who Competitors are Interacting with on Social
Aside from just finding writers who are clearly working relevant beats, another great way to source fresh reporters is to check out your competitors’ social media accounts. What reporters or media outlets are they following, who’s following them, and who are they interacting with?
This is a huge tip-off to who might be likely to cover your industry in the near or distant future, and you should get acquainted with relevant reporters before the story happens and you’re no a part of it.
3. Search for Stories That Are Similar – But Not the Same – As Yours
Pitching a reporter on a story they’ve already done is tempting. If they covered a competitor, why wouldn’t they want to cover you? But the fact of the matter is that most reporters will cover a topic once – after that, you need a fresh spin on the matter to gain coverage.
Instead of looking for stories that you “could have been” a part of, try seeking out stories that cover topics tangentially related to what your company does or the messaging you’re looking to put out. For example, if you’re pitching a summer angle on a food trend, you don’t want to pitch reporters who’ve already written that story. But finding writers who have covered seasonal food trends or summer farmer’s markets gives you an entrée into the pitch and a way to provide a new angle or value.
4. Keep Tabs on Twitter
Twitter is extremely helpful for media list research. Follow the reporters, writers and producers on your media list and create a filter to check out their tweets in an individual feed (using social media management tools) so you can keep up on their interests. Create separate categories of hashtags and keywords that are relevant to your business and keep tabs on that to ensure you’re not missing any topical reporter queries.
You can also use Twitter to research the right contacts if you already have a target outlet in mind. For example, searching “New York Times parenting reporter” or “WCVB assignment editor” may lead you to the Twitter handle of the right person.
5. Be Helpful
Once you’ve curated your media list, find ways to be helpful to them and develop relationships. On occasion, this may have no immediate benefit to you. Perhaps you’ve received interesting stats that are relevant to their beat, come across an infographic or met an expert that would make a great source for an upcoming story. See a story you’d like to have been included in? Introduce yourself to the reporter and provide value-added info – not to convince them to add you or rewrite the story (not gonna happen) but to help them in the future.