As digital journalists, we’re used to operating within the ever-evolving sphere of cyberspace. We’re continually forced to expand our arsenal of storytelling resources just to keep up with the influx of information and the lightning speed of the Web.
Meanwhile, some of the most essential parts of our industry — engaging with, learning from and sharing our work with others in our field — often get overlooked as we hurry to install the slickest apps or snag the latest gadgets.
One convenient resource that’s emerged to help digital journalists sift through the murky waters of the content-riddled Internet — and connect with fellow journalists at the same time — is Muck Rack.
WHAT IT IS
Simply put, Muck Rack is a website that allows digital journalists to network with colleagues, showcase their work, track its reach and discover career opportunities. What’s more, by using the site’s search features, users can see what news content is trending, who’s covering what and how effective that coverage has been throughout social media.
Built by Sawhorse Media, the tech company responsible for the Shorty Awards, Muck Rack was conceived of as a modern-day response to outdated journalist databases and antiquated search practices.
And the impact of that response has been pretty remarkable. According to Sawhorse Media CEO and cofounder Greg Galant, Muck Rack’s network has grown from 150 members at its launch in 2009 to what now includes over 25,000 journalists and media pros, including members from The New York Times, the BBC and The Wall Street Journal.
HOW IT WORKS
After creating an account (don’t worry, it’s fast and free), users are taken to Muck Rack’s homepage where they can access links to top news publications, see what other “Muck Rackers” are covering and find out who’s been the most digitally active that day.
Trending topics and hashtags also appear in a separate section on the homepage. With just one click, users can instantly connect to other journalists covering the topic or using the hashtag.
Journalists can also be found by name, keywords in content they’ve posted, the beats they cover or what type of social media they use to share their stories. Once you’ve found who you’re looking for, you can scan through their profile, see what other work they’ve posted and connect with them on social media. It makes the process of finding story ideas, related news coverage and journalistic sources a snap.
You can even receive email notifications anytime your search criteria matches content other journalists are posting on social media. As you write your story, this can be a handy tool to explore how your topic or beat is being covered and the effectiveness of that coverage on social media.
There are also opportunities to participate in digital forums with fellow journalists (including weekly #MuckedUp Twitter chats) covering a variety of industry-related topics.
In addition to the wealth of resources Muck Rack has to offer digital journalists, a key feature — and one that Galant concedes is the most popular — is the “Who shared my link?” tool.
Users simply enter a URL of an article or webpage to find out how many times it was shared on social media and which journalists and bloggers shared it.
“It’s a huge hit,” Galant said. “A lot of (journalists) want their work to have immediate impact, and it’s usually really hard to get the stats on that.”
MAKING THE MOST
When asked the single most important thing a journalist can do to have the most successful Muck Rack experience, Galant didn’t hesitate: “Focus on building your portfolio.”
Even though creating a user account is fast, journalists really benefit from building a more in-depth profile to showcase their work, pitch ideas, accept pitches from various PR, marketing and media outlets, and cultivate a professional following.
And because so many journalists and media pros currently use the site, your profile may be featured in the e-newsletter, Muck Rack Daily, which is filled with that day’s trending content, journalists’ quips, featured job openings and even a fun “Water Cooler” section.
Using the site is free, but you’ll gain access to the full range of features once Muck Rack editors have verified you as a journalist or media professional (again, a quick and easy process).
It’s worth your time, or at least a quick look. You’ll be a better journalist — and a better connected one — for it.
May Zayan is marketing communications coordinator for Holland & Knight LLP, and a freelance blogger. She explores the impact of digital media and technology on the law, politics and society. Interact on Twitter: @mayzayan.