How to Get Free Publicity for your Business: Be a Journalist’s Source (Part I)

Barbara DiggsContent Marketing, Content Strategy0 Comments

You see it every day: small businesses owners being quoted in local or national magazines and newspapers.

Sometimes they’re providing a few statistics relevant to their industry. Sometimes they’re sharing an opinion on some recent news event.  Often they’re not even talking about their businesses. But that doesn’t really matter. A good quote or mention in the media can be good publicity, even if your company isn’t being directly discussed.  Not only can it attract potential clients to your company or website, it can also help cement your credibility as an expert in your field — which can trigger a wealth of far-reaching gains.

Wondering how to get in on the action?  It’s not as hard as you might think. Journalists and writers like me are constantly on the lookout for good sources.  In this three-part series, I’ll tell you exactly what you need to do to get noticed and get quoted.

Let’s get started with the first step:


Nobody’s going to quote you if they don’t know you exist.  Luckily, thanks to the internet, there are quite a few ways to easily flag the attention of a journalist or writer. Try these:

  • Help a Reporter Out (HARO).  You’ve probably already heard of this fantastically popular website designed to connect writers and sources.  Register as a source and you’ll receive three daily emails from HARO listing queries from writers seeking expert sources.  The expert advice needed spans a wide range, including business, technology, education, parenting and more.   When you see a topic that you can provide advice on, you simply contact the writer at the email address given, offering your services (how to increase your chances of being chosen as a source will be featured in my next post).
  • ProfNet: Like HARO, you can sign up to be an expert source.  The different is that with ProfNet, you sign up as an expert in a particular field and are sent queries when a writer is looking for a source in that field.
  • Find a TV Expert“:  I just heard of this resource, so I don’t know how well it works.  But the website seems to be a kind of clearinghouse for expert sources.  For an annual fee, your photograph, a short biography, and keyword relating to your area of expertise can be featured on the site.  A journalist can find you either by entering keywords, or by searching under a particular category (e.g., finance, health, fashion, etc.)
  • Twitter: Follow writers and journalists on Twitter who might write stories relating to your field.  Sometimes writers looking for sources send out a quick tweet to their followers.  Keep in mind that if your own tweets are interesting and informative, the writer may follow you back and keep you in mind as a future source.
  • Establish Yourself as an Expert: You can also attract the attention of a writer by establish your own expertise by maintaining a blog, publishing a report, or authoring a book or e-book.  When searching on the web (or even on LinkedIn), journalists look for sources that have already taken steps to establish themselves as experts in their field in some way.

Note that I don’t recommend using press releases as a way to get on a journalist’s radar screen for these purposes  — not because press releases aren’t useful, but because, to be most effective, they need to be used for a very specific purpose, in a very specific way.  (You’ll be reading a lot more about using press releases to best effect on this blog soon!)

Stay tuned for my next post in this series:  How to attract a journalist’s attention and increase the chance of getting quoted.  

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