Journalists seeking sources have many tools today to find the perfect expert for their story. If you are an expert with a story to tell, you can get connected with journalists on many websites established for that purpose. With a little strategic thinking, you can find them on your own and form professional relationships.
Gaining publicity for your expertise is literally something that money can’t buy. That’s why it’s called “earned media.” You can only acquire it by contributing something valuable to a journalist’s story, and the journalist holds all the cards. If you can interest a journalist in your story, or if a journalist uses you as an expert source in a story she is writing, you gain massive visibility and authority. That’s why it’s so worthwhile to pursue publicity — it provides much more credibility than other forms of promotion.
Some charge a fee for the service and others are free. Some specialize. Here is the list:
U.S.-based services to help journalists seeking sources:
- Help a Reporter Out — This “fremium” service, once in competition with Cision’s Profnet, is now owned by Cision. If you are an expert, you can sign up to become a source for a journalist and several times a day receive a list of stories more than 40,000 journalists are researching. But know this — there are also more than 400,000 sources, so your chances of getting a hit are not that great. You might want to read this Ultimate Guide to HARO for tips on how to use it to your best advantage. Many of the tips work well for other services, too. You can purchase additional services, such as keyword alerts to help search through opportunities, profiles, getting queries early and other benefits. Follow #URGharo on Twitter for urgent requests.
- MuckRack — This paid service is PR and communications software for the digital, traditional and social media worlds. It helps you find and contact journalists, bloggers and freelancers who cover your niche or industry, monitor the news as it breaks, and generate quantifiable reports on your PR efforts. It is free for journalists, offering them the opportunity to customize their profile, showcase their best work and add their bio, beats, and topics they cover. It helps reduce the number of off-target pitches they receive.
- Newswise — Newswise offers a free query service for sources and journalists as well as a press release service. Members are influential organizations worldwide, including top medical schools, universities, research institutions, public relations firms, government agencies, non-profit organizations, associations and advocacy groups. News releases posted to Newswise include embargoed research results, feature stories, and expert pitches. Newswise members may also contribute announcements, press conference notices, product news and announcements, and media pitches.
- ProfNet — This is probably the first such service in the U.S., started 20 years ago by Cision, but there is a charge for sources to use the site. The service provides additional benefits such as expert profiles, links from press releases to profiles, and other benefits.
- Pitchrate — This is a small, completely free service for both sources and journalists that offers lots of lifestyle, gift guide and blogger queries, but is open to all.
International services that help journalists seeking sources:
- Food4Media — This is the Food & Drink Industry’s Media Network and the world’s leading online food and beverage news service for the media. Launched in early 2005, Food4Media distributes industry-related press releases, videos and multimedia content to a vetted community of food and lifestyle media. The service delivers a social network for the industry, allowing members to connect and network, view business-related updates and share ideas, industry news and opportunities. Food4Media offers a complete communications channel to reach and network with key media and industry regionally or globally.
- Gorkana — A U.K.-based media service owned by Cision that provides media alerts to the PR community. Gorkana’s PR network includes FTSE 500 companies, charities, membership bodies, tourist boards, top PR agencies, leading lifestyle brands and many more.
- Homes4Media — Homes4Media is a social network uniting journalists and PR professionals across the homes, interiors and gifts space. With offices in London and Sydney, it is billed as the media’s key route to sourcing interiors news and images, and issuing queries. It offers PR professionals’ a channel for building relationships with the media and developing campaigns.
- JournalistGateway — This free U.K.-based site indexes millions of journalist profiles, media contacts, outlets, news articles, expert sources, journalist request and more.
- JournoLink — This U.K.-based service connects small businesses with journalists, bloggers, reporters writers and media professionals. It also provides other resources such as press release and content production services, a planning calendar and a PR toolkit. The monthly fee is £25 and the annual fee is £200.
- JournoRequests — JournoRequests helps connect PRs and experts with bloggers and journalists seeking sources by aggregating journalist enquiries on Twitter using the #JournoRequests hashtag. Thousands of PR professionals have signed up for the free service. Many have opted for its pro service with instant alerts. Founded in 2015, it joined ResponseSource in 2017. JournoRequests is the fastest-growing media requests service in the UK.
- Media Kitty –Media Kitty connects PR and media professionals across the globe, making it easy to get news noticed and stories told. A community of 10,000+ journalists, marketers and communicators, Media Kitty specializes in the creative class. In its earlier days, MediaKitty’s network was tourism focused. Media Kitty is now reaching into new alleys, such as style and mobile technology, and entertainment and design.
- Meltwater — This company offers a suite of tools that help you connect with journalists and influencers, measure your PR impact and showcase your publicity results to stakeholders. PR professionals lean on this product suite to help them boost their brands and demonstrate their ROI. A demo must be requested to obtain pricing.
- NewsCertified Exchange — Founded by veteran journalists seeking sources, NewsCertified provides the global news media a searchable database of interview-ready experts and story ideas that are accessible 24/7. NewsCertified’s experts can discuss over a thousand topics. Their experts include authors, former statesmen, top medical and legal specialists and other thought leaders from around the world. Journalists can view video clips of experts and detailed background and contact information. They can also search a database of expert-generated story ideas that offer unique perspectives and fit into the news cycle. Certification lets journalists know that their experts are able to deliver effective TV, radio and/or print interviews.
- PRLOG — This is a free site for journalists and bloggers to post their queries and for PRs to post their press releases. There is a discounted fee to send your release out through PR Newswire.
- Property4Media — This is a social network uniting journalists seeking sources and PR professionals across the property industry. With offices in London and Sydney, it is billed as the media’s key route to sourcing property news and issuing requests for information. It is a prime channel for PRs to build relationships with the property media.
- ResponseSource — ResponseSource is billed as a service for PR agencies, businesses and charities with stories to tell. It is a UK service free for journalists and offers a free trial for sources. Press release distribution services are available for a fee.
- SourceBottle — This is a free service for PRs, journalists seeking sources and bloggers supported by advertising. It is based in Australia and features expert profiles.
- TravMedia — TravMedia is the travel industry’s social media network connecting media and public relations professionals worldwide. TravMedia currently operates in 10 countries — Australia, United Kingdom, United States, China, Germany, United Arab Emirates, Canada, India, New Zealand, and South Africa — with a community of more than 40,000 media and PR members.
- Expertise Finder — Expertise Finder is a search engine for journalists to find academic experts. It boasts of a network of 30,000 vetted experts. If you are a faculty member with an accredited university, four-year college or reputable think tank, you are eligible to apply. A basic membership is free and a premium membership is $3/month.
- Journalisted — Journalisted is an independent, not-for-profit website built to make it easier for the public to find out more about journalists and what they write about. It does not offer a media query service, but provides valuable information about working journalists. It is run by the Media Standards Trust, a registered charity set up to foster high standards in news on behalf of the public. Journalisted works by automatically searching UK national newspaper websites, BBC News and Sky News, and picking out journalists’ bylines. Articles are then indexed by the journalist — but you can also search by news outlet and keywords.
The site allows you to:
- Search articles published on UK national newspaper websites and BBC News by journalist, news outlet, subject and keyword;
- Read all articles by a particular journalist;
- Find out further information about a particular journalist. May include links to a personal website or Wikipedia page and an email address;
- Compare a journalist’s articles with those of other journalists who write about similar subjects;
- Contextualize articles, by seeing blogs that have linked to it and comments people have left about it;
- Find similar articles to the one you’re reading;
- Set up alerts to tell you when your favourite journalists have written something new.
- MulticulturalMarketingResources — A free query service to help journalists find a diverse source for any topic as well as experts on diversity and marketing to ethnic and niche consumers who are Hispanics, African Americans, Asian Americans, GLBT and other consumers.
- MyBlogU –– MyBlogU is a free, innovative community of writers and bloggers who exchange their case studies, digital assets, expertise and knowledge. It is the only content marketing platform that educates and provides tools to accomplish content marketing goals. MyBlogU helps bloggers crowdsource their content (from idea to implementation) and get cited for their expertise and digital assets. MyBlogU also provides a powerful knowledge base of actionable tips to help them succeed online.
- NewCannabisVentures — Experts, news and resources for businesses, investors, products and services involving cannabis.
- Pitchbox — This is a service that helps you identify, rank and contact blogs that may be interested in working with you for guest blogging. It is fairly pricey at $195/month.
Query sites generally work by providing short summaries of stories for journalists seeking sources. When responding to reporters’ queries, you must be prompt, articulate and on-target with your pitches.
While you are competing with many other people for the attention of the reporter, if you have valuable expertise and relevant examples, you have a good shot at landing an interview. Never pitch a different topic to a reporter in response to a query on one of these services, as you are likely to get blackballed.
You cannot rely on query lists for a full-blown PR strategy, but they are a good supplement to your media plan. Everyone in business is an expert in their field, so consider taking advantage of the media opportunities by following several media query lists.
Remember that journalists seeking sources are not looking to give you PR — they are doing their jobs of providing balanced coverage to their audiences. If you are able to benefit as a result of them doing their job, then that is a lucky break for you. Be prepared for the journalist to report on both sides of any issue, so a story that mentions or features your company may quote someone who questions your claims. A story about you or your business seldom will appear with only a one-sided point-of-view. If you know there’s another side of the story, it’s best to point it out and give your side before the journalist uncovers it.
Don’t take “negative” coverage or quotes personally — it’s just the way journalism works. The story, when considered as a whole, should be balanced. Unless there is something in the story that is out-and-out inaccurate or libellous, it’s usually best to ignore unflattering coverage. Demanding a “correction” or retraction because you don’t like the tone of a story will only alienate the reporter and set you up for an antagonistic relationship.
Become that expert that the journalist is seeking. When you are professional in your approach, she will return to you over and over for your advice and connections.