To become a credible source for media outlets is a great goal for any organization, as it positions the company as a thought-leader in the industry and often defines them as an expert in the field. Knowing the media trusts you and your organization enough to list you as a source in a story is a huge honor — but that trust doesn’t just happen overnight.
How do I become a credible source?
If you’re interested in becoming a regular, credible source for media outlets, there are a few different components you’ll want to consider:
- Your credentials – what makes you someone who can speak knowledgeably on the topic? Do you have any certifications, formal education, etc.? Have you been published in other sources as a topic expert? Media members prefer to speak with someone who has verified experience on the subject on which they are reporting to establish accuracy.
- Company credibility – what is the reputation of your company? What has your organization done (or not done!) to be considered an industry leader? Members of the media are on a mission to tell the truth and if your company isn’t held in a high regard when it comes to credibility, you will not be sought out to be a source for a story.
- Expertise – what is your experience with the topic at hand? How long have you been in your field? Any experience you have is beneficial, but typically the more experienced you are in your field, the more trustworthy you are considered, which always plays well with media members.
- History of truth-telling – are you a known truth-teller, or do you sometimes stretch the truth or fabricate a lie? This would very much hinder your ability to be considered a credible, trustworthy source.
- Availability – are you available to the media? This doesn’t mean being available 24/7 because you have a business to run, but do you return emails and voicemails promptly? Do you have a comments section on your website? Do you have a personal extension you can list? If you often aren’t available to speak, your likelihood of being contacted for a story diminishes.
- Offer verification – there’s a saying in journalism that goes “if your mother says she loves you, go check it out.” Offering proof or verification to what you’re saying is never a bad idea.
- Be prepared for all questions – the media is allowed to ask any questions they deem fit, so you should be prepared to answer any and all types of questions, even if it’s with an “I don’t know,” or “I’m not prepared to speak on this topic right now.” This will assure that you can speak clearly and effectively on any topic.
- Make clear what are your opinions, facts – having an opinion quoted as a fact can be detrimental to your credibility as a professional, so be sure to preface any opinions as that – a personal opinion.
Finally, after you’ve been used as a source for a piece, make sure you follow up! Read the story to be sure your quotes and information were used correctly. If there are mistakes, be sure to contact the reporter to get those changes made and a correction printed.