July 8, 2020
How to Become a Relied Upon Source for Journalists

The first to break all major news in the NFL and NBA, ESPN insiders Adam Schefter and Adrian Wojnarowski have risen to the top of their fields because they have reliable sources who provide them with information that no one else can provide. 

It’s no different in the legal industry. When a reporter is covering a story, they’ll need to determine the experts from various law firms who can assist them with the details. The goal for any lawyer should be to become that expert who is called on time and time again. Of course, researching media outlets, selecting the right story and delivering a pitch to a reporter is an effective way to garner earned media for your firm and potentially even earn a linkback, but it’s staying available and becoming a go-to for journalists that takes your media relations efforts to the next level. Here are some tips on how to become a source for journalists. 

Use Social Media

Once you get past the dog photos, memes and political opinions, social media can be a valuable tool for establishing yourself as an expert for reporters to contact. Journalists use social media to pursue story ideas and sources for their stories. According to a study from Muck Rack, 85 percent of journalists consider Twitter to be the most valuable social network, while another 22 percent even go to Twitter first for their news. 

That’s not to say that all of your social media efforts should be focused on just that one platform. Facebook was the most valuable social network for 35 percent of journalists and 23 percent selected LinkedIn. Regardless of which networks you ultimately select, it’s the information you share that will determine whether or not a journalist would consider you an expert. Be active and engage in any ongoing conversations. Put yourself out there with answers to the questions that those in your industry are asking and a reporter will have no choice but to reach out. 

Produce Relevant Content

The only way to become a source for journalists and reap the benefits of earned media is to prove your status as a thought leader with information that will be useful in their reporting efforts, and the best way to prove that is through creating and sharing your own relevant content. Before a member of the media even thinks about reaching out for your insight, they’ll do their own research to verify that you know what you’re talking about. Give them no choice but to contact you by standing out from the crowd with a steady dose of content that educates without asking anything in return. 

From a well-published blog and social media channels to live video and podcasts, there’s no shortage of opportunities to share valuable information. That content can then be shared on social media to expand your reach even further. By staying consistent with your content marketing efforts, you’ll reinforce your status as a thought leader and improve your reputation with both journalists and members of your target audience. 

Be Honest

Nothing will damage a relationship with the media like dishonesty. With the rise of fake news in recent years, journalists must be vigilant to ensure the information they are sharing is accurate. Before you share anything with a reporter, be sure you know what you’re talking about and provide evidence to support any claims you make. Even unintentionally misleading a journalist can permanently end any future opportunities and damage your reputation in the eyes of others in and around your industry. 

This also applies to keeping your word with members of the media. Never make promises that you can’t keep. Reporters are often working under the pressure of tight deadlines. There may come a time when a journalist contacts you requesting information or an interview without much notice. Of course, your first instinct is to accept immediately without even thinking about it. Before you decide, make sure that you have the bandwidth to meet their demands within the timeframe. If you don’t, tell the journalist immediately and reiterate that they’re welcome to reach out in the future. Your reputation won’t take a hit from being busy, and being honest with the reporter about it will go a long way toward ensuring that they contact you again next time. 

Stay Patient

It takes time to develop a relationship and become a source for journalists, but don’t get discouraged. There are always ways to build your reputation and trust with members of the media. Follow them on social media, share their content and provide your own insight about they’re content. Journalists want engagement on their content just as much as your law firm does, and by providing valuable information without being asked for it or asking for anything in return, you’ll be improving your reputation in the eyes of that journalist and your own followers. Once you’ve helped a reporter and made their job easier, you’ll become a go-to source for future stories and further establish yourself as a thought leader. 

However, even the best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry. If your attorneys have what it takes to be a source for journalists, but you can’t seem to develop that relationship with them—or don’t have the time to do it, we’d love to help! Let’s have a conversation about how we might be able to help your attorneys become go-to sources.

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