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April 11, 2018

Outreach basics: 3 ways to use Twitter to build an outreach list

Without wanting to state the obvious, you can't run an effective outreach campaign without a good outreach list. But how do you put a good list together? Today we’re going to look at three ways in which Twitter can help.

An outreach list is simply a list of websites you’d like to get coverage from and includes the names and contact details of relevant editors and journalists, as well as the kinds of stories they tend to cover.

In addition to being a great resource for spotting trends, sharing content and engaging with various individuals and organisations, Twitter is also an extremely useful public database. For PR specialists, this is especially handy, as we can identify possible contacts through the platform.

To help us gather the data we want, we’ll be using Followerwonk, a partially free tool created by Moz. It allows you to run a range of searches on Twitter users and export the results into an Excel worksheet.

Twitter users’ public information includes three key elements:

  • Who they follow
  • Who is following them
  • Their biography

So how can we use those elements to find contacts for our campaign? Let’s get into a few specific approaches …


1. Use your PR network to connect with more journalists and editors

A PR outreach specialist will follow countless editors and journalists on Twitter, and they’re particularly likely to follow individuals who have published content on their behalf in the past. Seeing who your contemporaries in the industry are networking with and connected to is a really fast and effective way of reaching out to new contacts – and, in turn, building an outreach list.

For this just search the Twitter handle of the outreach specialist and select ‘Analyse users they follow’:
Screen Shot 2018-04-03 at 13.50.42

In this example, I’ve analysed an outreach specialist who works with clients from the travel industry. Below are the most popular words within the bios of the people they follow:

Screen Shot 2018-04-09 at 11.59.41

Great! All you need to do now is export the list and go through it to find potential contacts.


2. Using a publication’s handle to find its journalists

So you’ve found a publication you wish to target, and now you want to contact specific journalists or editors. In this scenario we’ll select ‘Search Twitter profiles’ and then search for the Twitter handle of the publication. In this example, we’re looking for journalists from Business Insider UK:

Screen Shot 2018-04-09 at 12.01.25

Here are some of the results. As you can see, quite a few journalists disclose their email addresses within their Twitter profile. This can be a sign that the journalist welcomes pitches – or is at least contactable.

It’s worth going through the list manually to weed out any irrelevant contacts – designers and commercial staff use Twitter too, remember – but after that you’re good to go.

Screen Shot 2018-04-09 at 12.05.24

And once you have the format of one email address in the publication, you can probably guess the email of anyone else at the organisation. In this case, the format is (,


3. Searching for a specific type of publication to find new publications

We’re going to use Twitter as a search engine again here.

Let’s say you’re after aviation magazines. Choose ‘Search Twitter profiles’ and search for “aviation magazine”. Followerwonk will return all the Twitter profiles containing those words.

Most magazines out there have a Twitter account, and naturally they use their bios to tell you what they write about.

This is a super-efficient way of getting a list of publications within your target market. In this case, the search returned 253 matches:

Screen Shot 2018-03-15 at 14.47.35

Depending on how exhaustive we want to be, we could also try a few variations in our search term – “aviation journal” or “aviation news”, for instance.

Export the results to Excel and voila, you’ll have a list of useful contacts to work with. Again, they’ll need some manual sense-checking, but they’re a great starting point.

We hope you found this post useful! Let us know if you have any questions.

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