4 Ways To Find Sources

As a writer who has focused primarily on short-form blogging and personal essays, hunting down sources has never been a huge part of the work that I do. A portfolio that relies solely upon the self, however, can become an echo chamber. At some point in your writing career, It’s important to bring in new and differing perspectives.

Where to turn when you need an expert, and fast?

1. Media-Centric Sites and Expert Databases and Directories:

I’ve been using MediaBistro for so long that I tend to rely upon it for any publishing-related quandary. That’s why I often post SOS-style posts on the Sources for Stories section of their bulletin board. The only problem? Those frequenting the bulletin boards are usually media-types like myself, with an even bigger network of media friends. Someone may know someone, though, so I always try it when I’m desperate.

There are other sites, however, that exist solely to connect experts with reporters. ProfNet, run through PR Newswire, is a community “of nearly 14,000 professional communicators,” whom you can connect with via a search, or by posting a detailed request. Help a Reporter provides a form with which you can post queries, which are then e-mailed out to a database of sources who have signed up for the site. There is also Newswise, a database of universities, colleges, and other research organizations containing contact information for media relations personnel and websites, and ExpertClick, which allows one to search for experts by subject area.

2. Professional Organizations:

Looking for a marriage counselor? Contact Smart Marriages. Looking for an early childhood education specialist? Try the Early Childhood Development Association. During my time as a marketing associate for an academic book publisher, I attended many conferences and, let me tell you, they were a goldmine of field experts eager to share their knowledge with others. Most major search engines provide directories for professional organizations, organized by type. Contact an organization’s press office, and they’re usually more than willing to provide you with someone whose brain you can pick.

3. Word of Mouth:

In much the same way that you should tell everyone in the free world that you’re looking for a new job (you never know!), you should also spread the word among friends and family if you’re looking for someone with a specific specialty, or in a specific situation. Chances are, someone will know the exact someone you need.

4. Social Networking Sites:

This tactic is sort of an extension of word-of-mouth expert-hunting, and one that I’ve found to be effective in the past. I’ve posted SOSs on my MySpace bulletin board. I’ve joined interest groups on Facebook, and then posted to their message boards. My strongest ally lately has been Twitter, on which I’ve directly tweeted press queries, and even searched for people using Twellow or Twitter Search. Blogs such as Freelance Switch have also touted the usefulness of Twitter in this area. Harness the power of your extended network!

Anyone one have helpful tips and tricks they use to find story sources?


  1. In the UK, there’s Response Source…

    I’ve had very good luck getting sources through them.

  2. Thanks again for the tip Monica!

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