How to Be an Expert Source

Being quoted in the media as an expert source can lead to all kinds of benefits. A mention in a newspaper article or online story can lead to more business for the source, or at least a few notes of congratulations on social media.

To help business owners be quoted as sources in stories, the service HARO, or Help a Reporter Out, connects sources to reporters looking for experts on specific topics. I’ve used it many times as a reporter, and it has been a huge help. There are other ways to be used as an expert source in a story, starting with the old fashioned way of calling a reporter up and meeting with them in person.

As a reporter for my entire career, I’ve seen many people who mean well in their efforts to help me as a potential source, but who fail in many ways. So I’ve written a short book called “Sources Say” to help people learn how to become an expert source and make the most of any media opportunities.

Talk like an expert source

The book goes over how to reply to queries on HARO so that you’re more likely to be used as an expert source, the importance of being succinct and responding quickly, and even how to talk like an expert source.

For example, some people I interview don’t say what they want to say in a way that’s unique. They talk in generalities or use cliches, and don’t give specific answers that demonstrate their knowledge.

One rule of thumb for reporters who use direct quotes — which are the words between quotation marks — is that if the reporter can write it better than it is as a quotation, then it isn’t a quotation worth using.

Be the source you want to read. Say it in a unique way and have some passion about the topic. Say it in a way that no one else has ever said it. If you’re going to be dry and boring, chances are you won’t be used as a source in the story.

That’s just some of what I write about in the book “Sources Say” on how to be a great expert source.

Here’s a graphic explaining how to be a top source for reporters:

Sources say graphic