Traditional media outlets have been part of an incredible shrinking act the last several years as Generation X has led the way in opting to use only free Web-based sources. Despite that, the sheer number of influential writers whom marketers and PR pros are targeting has grown tremendously.

Today, getting your story in front of an influential writer can mean getting it to a traditional journalist at an established publication, an independent blogger, or a peer-to-peer reviewer.

And getting in touch with those key influencers is no easy task. Any writer who is important to you is also important to hundreds of other marketers, and she is inundated with an avalanche of emails, pitches, press releases, and tweets every day.

Sure, as that avalanche roars down the PR mountain, the writer could randomly open your email and pursue your story. But like anything else in the business-to-business realm, leaving things to chance is not the best strategy for a company looking to amplify its presence among prospects.

Though no method is guaranteed to get your story in front of an influential writer, you can successfully navigate those treacherous PR slopes and reach the influencers who matter most. Here are five proven ways to do so.

1. Familiarity Breeds Success

The simplest way to break through the clutter is to take an interest in the writers who are most important to your company. You can do that by following their blogs in your RSS feed, following them on Twitter, becoming a Facebook fan, and—most important—actually reading what they write.

Taking a more personable approach is also a plus. That may mean contacting influencers via telephone instead of email or arranging a meeting in person if the writer is willing. In other words, engage with them; become a real person to them instead of just a name on a random email.

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Dan Green is national media relations manager at Tech Image, a public relations firm that helps technology companies of all sizes accelerate sales with highly refined messaging, content development, and influencer-outreach programs. Reach him via