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Insider Tips For Thinking Like A News Organization

When I first started EMSI, I realized that to get the media’s attention I needed to think like a news organization, whether it was a newspaper, magazine, talk radio or TV show.

Early on, it became very apparent to me that I really serve two clients – the people who want media coverage and the media themselves.  So, at that point I created a news division at EMSI called News & Experts providing quality content for the print media and credentialed guests for broadcast.

So while you know us as EMSI Public Relations, we go out to the media as News & Experts. That’s how they know us – as a reliable source for content and experts. We’re on their go-to list because they know we represent numerous clients with expertise on a variety of topics.  AND, we understand and respect their deadlines. This is part of the secret sauce we use to get media placements for our clients.

For example, Elle Magazine just recently reached out to News & Experts for help on an article about the importance of women surrounding themselves with female friends. Fox Business routinely calls looking for people who can comment on the latest happenings in the world of finance.

Another advantage we have is that several of our team members worked in either the print or broadcast media. Because they’ve been on the other side, they have “inside-baseball” knowledge about how media minds work.

For instance, Ronnie Blair, our senior creative communications strategist, had a long career writing and editing for daily newspapers.

Ronnie tells me one bit of wisdom he gained during his career was that “a reporter is only as good as his or her sources.”  He found that to be true and routinely remained on the lookout for people who could provide reliable information.

“When I was a business writer, I always kept a list of people who could speak about topics such as the stock market or banking,” Ronnie says. “I found myself going back to the same people time and time again simply because I knew they would come through for me.”

I asked Ronnie to offer a few tips for anyone who wants to become a regular source for the news media. He had this to say:

  • Journalists are looking for two things in a source. They want someone who can speak with authority on a topic, and who will get back to them in a timely fashion. Journalists often face tight deadlines and may need something within an hour or two, not a day or two. That’s why they prefer to keep a ready-made list of sources they can count on in a pinch. These are people who have proven themselves in the past so the journalist doesn’t have to spend the afternoon staring nervously at a phone that never rings.
  • Journalists love to broaden their trove of potential sources.  If you aren’t on the list at the moment, don’t despair. From the journalist’s standpoint, quoting the same two or three people in every article gets old quickly, especially if the competition quotes the same people. Plus, even the best sources are out of pocket at times, so additional sources are always welcome.
  • How to crack into that source list. Check your local media to see who regularly reports on a subject that’s within your expertise. Send that person an email, let them know you are aware of their work, briefly sum up your credentials and tell them you would be happy to be a source in the future. Include phone numbers! Nearly all journalists will take a moment to file away your name. Who knows? You might even get a call within minutes of sending the email, so be prepared.
  • Follow the news. You don’t always have to wait for the journalist to contact you. If a breaking news story is happening, and you can offer insight, send a quick email. Keep it short and to the point. (“Hi, Joe. I see that the stock market is taking a dive. If you or someone else at your news organization needs a local source to comment on this, feel free to give me a call.”)

Ronnie adds that you shouldn’t become discouraged if you don’t experience immediate results. It could be weeks or even months before the journalist encounters the need for your particular area of expertise, so be patient.

Just remember that when the call does come, respond promptly. That’s the best way to begin establishing a good relationship and to make your way to the top of that journalist’s go-to list.


Thinking journalistically,



P.S. If you need help with boosting your social media marketing, give us a call at 727-443-7115 ext. 211 or simply start by getting your Free Media Analysis here!

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