How to Work With a Journalist on an Article: Tips for Sources, Writers and PR Pros

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How to Work With A Journalist on an Article: Tips for Sources, Writers and PR Pros

People need people. Articles are always stronger when you have first-hand expert insight from quality sources. As a newspaper journalist-turned-content-marketing-writer who often tackles brand journalism content, I rely on sources often for my work.

If you’re new around here you might be wondering what brand journalism is from a writer’s perspective. Well, it’s creating marketing content using journalism skills, like research, interviews and quoting sources. The finished content looks much like a feature story you’d read in a magazine or newspaper. Brand journalism is a hot content type in the marketing world and I love using my newsroom skills to create these types of articles, blog posts, white papers and e-books.

To make this magic happen we partner with public relations pros, experts, community leaders, professionals and really anyone whose voice would add strength and credibility to the content we are creating.

Successful collaborations create strong content.

In today’s blog post I’m sharing a few insights from my perspective as a content marketing writer who often partners with sources to create branded content for businesses. In this post I’ll explain:

  • Be Mindful of the Writer’s Deadlines and Source’s Schedule
  • Too Many Cooks in the Kitchen Spoil Content Quick
  • Offer a Variety of Ways to Connect, Thanks to Modern Technology
  • Please Don’t Be a Ghost. Writer’s Remember Those People.

Be Mindful of the Writer’s Deadlines and Source’s Schedule

Timing is everything when you’re writing on deadline. When I first reach out to connect with a source, I always include a timeline for the collaboration and important deadlines. I want them to know upfront if this is a quick-turn or if we have more time to linger over the project so they can quickly accept or decline the opportunity. This helps to avoid multiple reschedules.

On the flip side, as a writer, it’s polite to also be aware of your source’s schedule too. I recently partnered with a surgeon for a health-focused article and learned that he is with patients in the mornings, so it’s best to chat with him in the late afternoons and evenings when he’s doing desk work. We were both mindful of each other’s time and ended up producing an excellent article together.

Disclosure: This blog is reader-supported, which means this post contains affiliate links and advertisements. I earn a small commission if you shop through them, which helps fund this website so I can continue to bring you amazing content. Thank you! ~Angela

Too Many Cooks in the Kitchen Spoil Content Quick

I often use HARO, SourceBottle, Qwoted or my Twitter feed to find experts to lend insight to my articles. When I reach out, I expect to communicate with one or two people, max. I have no problem initially chatting with a PR representative or assistant before talking directly with the expert, but if a source starts to loop in multiple colleagues, a legal representative and their own marketing people on our conversations, things go sour fast. Too many voices pop in and it’s hard to move forward.

With that said, I have no problem having a source’s team on board during the collaboration, but they don’t need to have a voice during our phone call. I can tell you having six voices on one call is a nightmare. Instead, I’m happy to have a team review questions before we chat. And if my marketing client allows it, they can review (not edit) the first draft copy and make suggestions for clarity and accuracy.

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Offer a Variety of Ways to Connect, Thanks to Modern Technology

Speaking of those calls, I’m happy to connect in lots of ways with my sources. Some prefer the writing aspect of responding via email. Others like to talk on a phone call or video chat. Pre-pandemic, my usual for newspaper work was to sit and chat in person. When connecting with a source, offer options that work for you and let them choose what works best for them.

During this pandemic, I’m discovering many sources are happy when I suggest a good old-fashioned phone call (no video) to give them a little break from all those on-camera meetings we’re engaging in these days.

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Please Don’t Be a Ghost. Writer’s Remember Those People.

Finally, the best collaborations with sources are the ones where we both show up, consistently. I can tell you horror stories of solid sources engaging, chatting and getting excited about a project, only to ghost me the day before we connect. Sometimes they reach out a week or two later to explain why, but often they don’t.

I know things pop up at work and in our personal lives, but it only takes a moment to send a quick note that says, “I’ve had an emergency pop up. Can we reschedule for X.” From there, I then know if this source is still viable for my timeline or if I should reply with my gratitude and let them know I’ll need to work with someone else because of the deadline.

Considerate communication goes a long way in this business!

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2 Replies to “How to Work With a Journalist on an Article: Tips for Sources, Writers and PR Pros”

  1. Hi Angela,

    It was a great article! I really gained a lot of information after reading it. I covered a post with a journalist sometime back, it was a news article for my website, and I can now see where your advice is coming from. I think these tips can be applied to instances when you are working with another team to create a piece of content. I will definitely be keeping this mindset going forward. Thanks for sharing this!

    1. Hi John! Thanks for stopping by and reading! I’m glad you enjoyed the article and found the information to be helpful! They really are good tips for any sort of collaboration/team process. Have a lovely holiday season!

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