3 Ways to Find Sources for Your Articles

experts freelance writing journalism networking sources Oct 26, 2021

Recently, in the Success Society, Leona asked about interviewing. One thing she wanted to know was where to find sources – you know, real human beings to interview.

Leona suggested it would make a great segment for The RN2writer Show (and she’s right!). But I thought I’d start with a blog post on this subject.

Approach a likely institution

When you need to interview a clinician, you don’t even have to locate an individual person; many institutions will recommend a qualified person on their staff. Often, the organization even will facilitate the interview for you.

For instance, if you need a top-notch oncologist to comment on breast cancer screening guidelines, you can simply head to an institution like MD Anderson, review their list of experts, and follow the instructions for contacting a member of the organization’s public relations team.

Similarly, you also might look up recent research on the topic you’re writing about and approach the principal researcher of a relevant study. Again, you may have to go through the institution’s media or public relations representative in order to speak to that individual.

Find expert sources through PR Newswire for Journalists or Qwoted

Another way to find sources is to put out a request through a service like PR Newswire for Journalists or Qwoted. Both of these services are free to reporters and allow you to submit a request detailing the type of expert you’re seeking to interview, then they circulate that request to their subscribers in the public relations industry.

Many experts retain PR representatives to obtain media coverage for them, and a good PR rep will respond to your request with the name of a client who meets the criteria you specified. Keep in mind these types of sources might be seeking publicity for their business or a book they recently published or for some other commercial reason. If a source asks you to “guarantee” a link to their product or “guarantee” a mention of their book or something, you’ll need to check with your editor before agreeing to any such request.

Find “real people” sources through networking

Sometimes, you may need to find a “non-expert” source – or what we call a “real person” source. For instance, maybe you want to interview someone with COPD who is traveling the world.

These types of sources are more difficult to find, in my experience. One way to do it is to join various online groups and ask the moderator if you could have permission to post a request for sources.

Or, simply network your way to the person you need. Many of my journalist friends will send requests to their writer friends asking if anyone knows a person who fits their source profile: “Hey, do any of you know anyone with COPD who is traveling the world? I need a source.” The friends, in turn, will ask their own friends – who can then ask their friends.

Ultimately, you might hear from someone who heard about your need for a source and is volunteering to be that person. That’s a great outcome!

As you gain experience as a writer, you’ll develop your own methods for finding sources. And if you have any tips to share right now, please find us on your favorite social media channel and let us know!

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