All That’s News About Media Outreach: Muck Rack Tested

Muck RackMedia outreach, the double edged sword that slices PRs and journalists to shreds at times, any communicator out there can surely use good tools for helping out. While everybody knows about Peter Shankman’s (now Vocus’) HARO ingenuity, but have you heard of Muck Rack?

If you Google; “How to reach out to journalists”, the resultant SERP will be filled top to bottom with “experts” to advice you on tips for connecting with reporters. Most of these will speak of reporters on social media channels, and how to follow, soft soap, RT, and determinedly get your news reported! Uh hum. What HARO (help a reporter out) has done for the reporter-topical-story connection, Muck Rack does too, only with some better organization, and etc.

Like any complex tool or startup, explaining Muck Rack’s methodology is a bit difficult. Co-founder Greg Galant was kind enough to allow me to test Muck Rack Pro for a spell. so let’s see how YOU can best get connected to any single journalist.

What is most important for any professional out there? The job, of course. And what does a reporter’s job consist of? Supplying what readers want, surely. The screenshot below shows one way Muck Rack helps anyone “engage” the media market.

The topic

The topic, the trend, who’s saying what, vital info for any PR

What you see here is the center section of the Much Rack UI and dashboard. What’s important for the “would be” pitch champion out there is this. Targeting relevance, what’s important to people, is the key to success in any communicative venture. Short layman’s version: stay on topic. There’s nothing any reporter (I know I am one) hates more than having his or her time wasted with off topic nonsense. We are all busy.

Okay, Muck Rack helps show the “tip of the iceberg” of trending reporter glee. But what about filtering, refining, digging down to find the best connection for a story? They call these “beats” don’t they? Muck Rack lets users narrow by topical, geographic, and other filtering options. The screen below shows what influencers are saying, what subjects are important to them.

Beats, influencers, and what influences them

Beats, influencers, and what influences them – the pitch Holy Grail

Now we have any connective tissue there is in between our client’s story, the overall trending ideas out there, and the more targeted beat and influentials who may tell such a story. I hope the reader is beginning to see the pattern, the value of tools like Much Rack. But, I know the impatient reader is asking; “What’s their email address?” Not so fast, I get 400 + emails a day, and delete 350 before opening the others.

Without diving totally into the myriad paths you might take to engage with all those reporters; the topics, popularity of authors, activities, social input, and etc., starting with a beat and Twitter activity is one good way to discover who is saying what and how often. You simply must remember the things that power journalists, particularly reporters -the Who, Where, When, What, Why and How of a story – your story, should be as important to your outreach as it is to the storyteller. You see, you are the storyteller too. The image below shows a filtering within the “technology beat” to see who in tech is tweeting what?

Sam Biddle's profile and recent activity

Sam Biddle’s profile and recent activity

In this case, Gizmodo’s Senior Staff Writer, Sam Biddle, comes right out and asks anyone listening if they want to talk about physics. You see, reporters are just people too. Sam wants to discuss what’s important to him, in time, at a venue, and with anyone listening. This is powerful stuff if you are a communicator. But let’s wrap up Muck Rack for you, we are all short of time.

Muck Rack has all manner of helpful tools you will discover. I can add Sam up there to media lists, make personal notes about him, investigate more about him, connect directly on his SM accounts, or even RT straight from the Muck Rack dashboard. Plus, plus, plus. The bottom line here is any communicator can use Muck Rack to refine and tailor their media network. Does this mean you are profiling reporters and mercilessly targeting them? Well.

Even if you are stalking reporters with tools like Muck Rack, it’s a good thing for reporters too. After all, news is an information funnel with PRs, marketers, ad peeps, and businesses in the supply funnel. Reporters need your stories, but the right ones at the right time.

InfoWorld's Galen Gruman

InfoWorld’s Galen Gruman – result for HTML 5 query in advanced

As for “stalking” media, this is of course tongue in cheek. The golden rule for engaging in communication with anyone is ALWAYS to be considerate. More on that line later on, for now it is important to note Muck Rack is decidedly not HARO, it’s actually a lot better in some ways. Subtract the massive network Vocus and HARO have accumulated, and Muck Rack could be neck and neck with the world’s best story connection tool.

Will your work reaching selected media be successful using Muck Rack?

Muck Rack is not perfect, but the tool will improve your chances of communicative success. So much to, I suggest you give it a shot, and without reservations. Plus, there’s a lot more to the service, like advanced search for finding reporters in real time, and more. In the image above I looked for the most relevant on Muck Rack for the term HTML 5 for a story I am writing for instance.

Let me hear your view too.

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