The media’s process of looking for experts and sources has changed dramatically, over a relatively short period of time. Pre-Internet, when I first started working as a journalist, we all depended on battered Rolodexes stuffed with business cards from trade shows, conferences and glossy press kits. If you didn’t have a source at the ready, you searched trade association and company directories, and called around to existing sources for help. With the advent of email and the now-primitive-seeming online newswire feeds, a time-consuming process got a little easier and faster.
Now, journalists are increasingly looking online for experts and sources. Paper press kits have been replaced by PDFs downloadable from a company website. I’ll highlight three points from a blog post by John Thompson that illustrate this point. (Read “Ten Things Every Journalist Should Know in 2010” at http://blogs.journalism.co.uk/editors/2010/01/04/ten-things-every-journalist-should-know-in-2010/ )
Thompson argues that journalists must know:
- How to monitor Twitter and other social media networks for breaking news or general conversations in their subject area using such tools as TweetDeck, and using hashtags.
- That they are “curators.” Thompson writes: “Part of your role will eventually be to aggregate content (but not indiscriminately). You will need to gather, interpret and archive material from around the web to help your readers get news from social media.” (Note that journalists still act as information filters.)
- “If you are unable to tell a story in an accurate and compelling way, no one will want to consume your content.” I believe this last point applies both to journalists and those who would be noticed by them. So before you ask someone else to tell your story, be sure you have it clear in your own mind and in the materials you use to communicate with the outside world.
Expert Sources and Guest Bloggers Wanted
In all the above points, you can see a pattern: journalists are looking for information and sources online – not just company or organization websites but Twitter posts, blogs, and social networking sites. The Internet also allows them to put out requests for specific information and people with specific expertise. If you want to get a quick read on what journalists in all types of media are looking for, on a real-time basis, check out these free lead services.
Help a Reporter Out (HARO) – Get leads on reporters for print, broadcast and online media looking for expert sources to interview; sign up for emails at www.helpareporter.com
Blogger LinkUp — Want to be a guest blogger? Need guest blogger content for your own blog? Sign up for emails at http://BloggerLinkUp.com
Reporter Connection – Service is in beta mode, sign up to get emails with media leads at www.ReporterConnection.com/JoinNowFree
Remember, all media are hungry for content. If you are sharing a clear and compelling story online, you can increase your chances of media exposure. Any questions? Success stories to share?