Three Ways to Ensure Journalists Will Contact You Again

Recently I wrote some guidelines about How to Make Sure Journalists Quote You Correctly. Since then several people have asked about a related question: how you make sure that journalists will ask you for comments again in the future.

As a freelance journalist I have asked many other people for comments and in my role as consultant I have also been on the other side, so I have learned why some people get contacted just once while others are asked again and again. There are actually just three simple yet important rules to follow.

RESPOND QUICKLY. When you are asked if you are interested in commenting on some topic you should respond as quickly as possible. The journalist is almost certainly working to deadline and needs to talk to a number of sources. Knowing who is interested and who isn't is very important. If you don't respond they don't know if you plan to respond later and maybe have to choose someone else instead. At this stage it is enough to state that you are interested and intend to respond, asking for clarification if needed. This simple gesture makes you stand out as a useful and dependable source even before you have answered any questions.

RESPECT DEADLINES. Always make sure that you know when the deadline is and respect it. If you promised to send something by Friday make sure that you send it by Friday. Comments that are too late might still be squeezed into the article, but they are likely to be further down or in a less important role. They might also be thrown away if they arrive too late to be used. What is worse is that once you miss one deadline you are likely never going to be asked again. On the other hand if you are scrupulous about respecting deadlines you stand out among all the other sources and you are almost guaranteed to be asked again, unless your inputs are not usable.

PROVIDE USABLE ANSWERS. Confirming availability and meeting deadlines are very important, but even that will not get your name added to the list of trusted sources unless you actually provide usable answers. There are three elements in this. First of all you have to read all the instructions very carefully and make sure that you are addressing the right question. At the same time provide more than is actually needed so that the journalist can choose the best parts but without sending too many words. Finally, make sure that your comments are not over-promotional. Never use the language of brochures or advertising in your responses, avoiding the kinds of phrases like "world's leading X" that do not sound like serious journalism.

Follow these three rules diligently and you are likely to be asked to comment again in future by journalists you have already spoken to. You are also more likely to be contacted by other journalists who have either seen your name mentioned in other articles -- often the sign of a good source -- or you are recommended to them by people you have impressed.


Lectures, Workshops, Coaching and Writing

For lectures, workshops, one-to-one coaching and writing on this and other communication topics you can contact me at writer@andrewhennigan.com or by phone on +33 6 79 61 42 81 or +46 730 894 475. You can also find more information on my website http://andrewhennigan.com


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