How to Track Down (Almost) Anyone’s Email

by March 5, 2020
Photo of a magnifying glass on a laptop by Agency Olloweb via Unsplash. 

Whether you’re pitching a freelance story to a new-to-you editor or contacting sources to schedule interviews, you lean heavily on email. But some people make their email addresses absurdly hard to find, because they don’t want their inbox flooded. For contacting experts you want to interview, sometimes a phone call can get a more immediate response and ensure that your message won’t get stuck in spam. But if you truly need to email, here are some strategies for sleuthing out almost anyone’s address.  

Find the formula 

Many of the major publishing companies use the same email formula for all their staff. If you know an editor’s full name, you can plug it into the formula. However, this can get tricky if uses two last names or a hyphenated last name. Ed2010 shared the usual email formulas for CondéNast, Time Warner, and other media companies. For companies not on Ed201o’s list, you might have better luck finding an email address someone in sales or marketing and figuring out the formula. Assuming an editor’s email follows the same conventions, you can plug in the editor’s name to figure out their email address. 

Try a tech tool 

If you can’t find the email formula (or the email you use bounces), tools like Hunter Email FinderSnovio Email FinderAnymail Finder, and Verify-Email.org might be a worth try. For some, you provide the person’s name and the website of where they work. Others verify a suspected email address by pinging the recipient’s email server. Some of these tools have a paid version but you’ll typically be able to locate at least a few email addresses before you have to start paying. 

Look to LinkedIn 

Depending on how complete someone’s public LinkedIn profile is, you may be able to find their email address there. In some LinkedIn profiles under the person’s name and title, you’ll find a tab titled “Contact Info.” Not everyone makes their email visible here, but I’ve come across a few editors who do.

Turn to Twitter

I wouldn’t follow up on a freelance pitch using an editor’s Twitter account, but I do use Twitter to follow up on unanswered interview requests. I’ve found that some businesses rarely answer their phones or check their press or media email accounts, so a quick follow-up via Twitter (“Hi @unresponsivebusiness I’d love to feature you in an article I’m writing about low waste restaurants. What’s the best way to contact you and arrange a phone interview?”) can do the trick when email or phone doesn’t. In a few cases, the source found this method annoying, but when I’m on deadline, I try to pull out all the stops to get the information I need. 

Pick up the phone

While many people now screen calls or don’t listen to voicemails, sometimes a phone call is still your best option, even you’ll eventually move to email for sharing details of your request. If you reach the source you want to interview, then I would quickly explain why you’re calling and ask if it’s a good time to chat for a few minutes or if they’d like to schedule a time for you to call back. I might call a publication’s main number to see if they’ll verify an editor’s email address. But I wouldn’t cold call an editor to follow up on a pitch, as they not appreciate this, especially if they’re on deadline.