How can I find contact info for someone appearing in the media?
January 15, 2015 2:45 PM   Subscribe

I'm doing a big research project and have come across a few articles (and a few videos, one produced by VICE) containing interviews with people I would really love to talk to. How can I get in touch with these people, assuming googling their info is not an option?

I know journalists will generally work to insulate sources, but each of the people of interest is open and on the record, giving their name, location, etc. I'm also relatively certain (for a host of reasons) that each would be at the very least sympathetic to the aims of the project. Any ideas for how to make these contacts? It's probably not terribly difficult to contact the writers and producers of the media pieces, but is there much chance of that being fruitful?
posted by still bill to Media & Arts (17 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
Try LinkedIn. Often people will include email addresses in their profiles.

You can write to their employers asking to be put in touch with the folks you'd like to interview.

Who knows if they'll be game, you need to make the offer compelling to them. Getting in touch should be relatively easy though.

Also, why can't you google them? You can google everyone.

Cold Calling. It's a thing.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 2:52 PM on January 15, 2015


I'm not sure if I'm reading your question correctly, but most people who "aren't available" to the general public (actors, writers, musicians, etc.) have representation - i.e., agents. It is usually fairly simple to determine (via Google) what agency a given figure is represented by, and then you reach out to the agency with your request, and then the agent may, if he or she chooses, pass the request along.
posted by pretentious illiterate at 3:05 PM on January 15, 2015


Sorry, to clarify:
RB-none of these are people with any public professional affiliations whatsoever, so linkedin is not an option. Googling is not an option because it was my first effort and proved totally fruitless. Cold calling is not so simple because there are no numbers to call. What I need are email addresses; for reasons I won't go into, I'm certain they are all contactable that way, but it's much less likely they are reachable by phone without establishing a connection by email first.
PI-the people I'm seeking aren't public figures or entertainment folks beyond these limited appearances, so no agents or other reps of that sort.
posted by still bill at 3:17 PM on January 15, 2015


Get in touch with the interviewer who can pass your info on to the people you want to reach.
posted by Dragonness at 3:31 PM on January 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


I am very good at finding things on the Internet. No one is un-Googleable, you just might need to tweak your strategy. These people are all worthy of interviews, so presumably they have some expertise. Look for professional organizations they might belong to, that would be my first tack.
Have you tried Facebook? You do not have to be friends with someone to send them a Facebook message.
Other places people show up: Amazon reviews and wish lists, Flickr accounts, yelp reviews. Their email may not be listed, but you could contact them via that site's messaging function.
Are any of these people business owners? Check their state's corporations database for filings. I know that in my state the newest filings contain an email.
If worse comes to worse, this is what people pay Intellius and the like for.
posted by Biblio at 3:36 PM on January 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


You could ask the journalists and producers to pass on your requests, but you could be waiting around for a reply. I agree---most people are pretty easy to find. Would you have access to Lexis/Nexis?
posted by Ideefixe at 5:00 PM on January 15, 2015


People who aren't public figures shouldn't be too hard to track down by traditional means.

If you can't look up numbers in a phone book, or use the internet to find relevant details (company they work for, twitter account, LinkedIn, etc), I'd question how much you really need to contact these people.

A lot of company websites list staff contact info, or if not, often calling the company can get you in touch with them.

People who are impossible to contact through either traditional means (corporate website, social media, looking them up in the phone book) or professional means (agents etc) are probably not interested in being approached by a stranger, period.

Most journalists are not going to do your homework for you by simply handing over their rolodexes to a random stranger.
posted by Sara C. at 5:59 PM on January 15, 2015


To clarify: none of these are people with any public professional affiliations whatsoever, so linkedin is not an option. Googling is not an option because it was my first effort and proved totally fruitless. Cold calling is not so simple because there are no numbers to call. What I need are email addresses; for reasons I won't go into, I'm certain they are all contactable that way, but it's much less likely they are reachable by phone without establishing a connection by email first.
posted by still bill at 6:00 PM on January 15, 2015


Do they not have jobs? A surprising number of people who have no "public professional affiliations" are on LinkedIn, just by virtue of being part of the working world.

And you've checked Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and the like?

The only category of people I can think of who don't have jobs, don't have any online presence whatsoever, and don't have phone contact numbers (even if tangential), are people who probably are not going to want to be contacted no matter what.
posted by Sara C. at 6:06 PM on January 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


Can you give us more information on what kind of people you're having trouble finding? I mean, are they homeless people, religious cultists, or what? When I can't find any trace of somebody else's source through Google or LinkedIn or one of the many online people finders, I start to wonder if that source was fabricated from whole cloth, or at least if their name was changed.
posted by Mothlight at 6:22 PM on January 15, 2015 [3 favorites]


Yes, if you want help you really need to tell us more about these people. If they appeared in the media there was clearly something interesting about them. What's the vector that got them there? Were they from a certain geographic location, did they have a certain life experience? Do you know their real names?
posted by alms at 6:27 PM on January 15, 2015


You need to think like the journalists who found them in the first place. What was the subject of the VICE video? If you were putting together a video on that subject where would you go to find interviewees? Probably somewhere associated with that topic, like a forum, or a subreddit.

Heyyy...is this about Gamergate? Because gamer gaters are people who might be hard to track down if they are anonymous chan-types. But still, if you have their names and locations you should be able to get somewhere.

Can you link us to the VICE video? Maybe that would help us get the right approach.
posted by Biblio at 7:42 PM on January 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


Is your research project connected to the thing they were interviewed about, and genuine and above board? Do you have affiliation with a reputable institution? Is the subject of your research not particularly personal and sensitive?

If so, emailing the journalist responsible for their interview with a request to have your message passed along isn't going to hurt your chances. They may or may not do it depending on what their connection to the subject was, how long ago, whether they feel like it, etc, but it wouldn't be rude to ask. Provide a short -- no more than a couple of sentences -- description of what you're interested in and your contact information, and ask them to forward it to the interviewee. Based on my experience, I'd say somewhat less than half of these emails will result in any contact for you, but that's a few more contacts than you have now.
posted by jacquilynne at 8:58 PM on January 15, 2015 [3 favorites]


> To clarify: none of these are people with any public professional affiliations whatsoever, so linkedin is not an option. Googling is not an option because it was my first effort and proved totally fruitless. Cold calling is not so simple because there are no numbers to call.

If even then journos who interviewed them can or will help, then hire a private investigator.
posted by rtha at 9:28 PM on January 15, 2015


No, not about GamerGate or anything similar or related.

Thanks, jacquilynne!
posted by still bill at 3:35 AM on January 16, 2015


To clarify: none of these are people with any public professional affiliations whatsoever, so linkedin is not an option. Googling is not an option because it was my first effort and proved totally fruitless. Cold calling is not so simple because there are no numbers to call. What I need are email addresses; for reasons I won't go into, I'm certain they are all contactable that way, but it's much less likely they are reachable by phone without establishing a connection by email first.

Googeling the ungoogelable is part of my job. I am told: get in touch with XYZ, we want him on our next panel. XYZ appears in the media, but it is not clear at all how they spend their day.

For obvious reasons I do not want to give an example. But Google is your friend here. Facebook is useless for this purpose, LinkedIn mostly too, only one you have some sort of handle on them and know their assistant's name for example LinkedIn is helpful. Some people twitter, and whilst this in itself does not help it can tell you where they are/have been/will go and get you on the right path.

If you like, send me the name(s) in Memail, I can then give you tips on where to start. It makes a difference in what field the person is famous. From what you write I am assuming corporate (eg like founders of companies), authors, influential people.

It is time consuming but perfectly doable:
I google the person initially, to see what it is they are famous for.
What is it they founded? A charity, a magazine, or are the chairs of some board? Have they give attanded Davos? Or whatever - the interviews you read or saw where recorded somewhere. The look for books, interviews, etc.
It is very tedious but look at everthing you can find, not just the first page of results google gives, but page after page after page.

Then see if you find a crack somewhere. Eg let's say the person founded a publishing house in 1954, and no, they are not mentioned on the website of the publishing house, except to say they are the founder, but the pubishing house has a press office. Contact that press office.

In you message to the press office, be concise, don't overload the details: just who you are and what i is you want from the famous person, your own credentials.
Dont ask for the personal contact of the famous person, they wont give it. Ask for the contact of their personal press spokes person, or the contact for their office, or the contact for the personal assistant. And then write to them, again avoid overload of info. Offer to give as many details as needed but don't cram it all into the first contact.

Maybe they are also major contributors to Charity X. Contact press office of charity X as outlines above.
I send those messages, knowing it will take some time, but eventually there will be a response of some kind. If a telephone number is there, I email and then after a few days I phone.

Maybe they are lsited (most likely) on the website of a speaker bureau - the speaker bureau will most likely not be helpful (they make their living with this info) but what can be very useful is the person's entry on their website. Look for info on where the person spoke previously.
I get th queries sometimes from people who want to contact someone who spoke at one of our events, and while I will never pass on the info I have, I have also passed on an email message to the office of the famous person.

Maybe they are on the board of company Z. Write to the company. Look for an email address again of a press office, or office of the president.

If none of the above applies at all, there are still some things you can do, but this depends really on what they are famous for. Memail me if you like.
posted by 15L06 at 3:56 AM on January 16, 2015 [3 favorites]


If the person is "famous" (though it sounds like not, since OP claimed they weren't a public figure), twitter or some kind of second-level thing like emailing their company's media relations department, is the best way. Or, if they are an entertainer in any capacity, they will have an agent.
posted by Sara C. at 12:19 PM on January 16, 2015


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