How to Find Credible Sources to Cite in Media Pitches

With Google at our fingertips, information isn’t hard to find. But finding credible information can sometimes be a challenge.

 

In an era of “fake news,” it is more important than ever for public relations professionals to use credible sources in their pitches to journalists. These credible sources ensure your audience – journalists, and perhaps their readers, viewers, or listeners – can trust you, and that the assertions laid out in your pitch are backed up with reliable evidence.

 

Here are a few best practices for finding and citing credible sources in your next pitch:

 

What makes something credible?

As a PR professional, you are expected to use the best, most correct, most recent, and most reliable information possible. That way, journalists can trust in you and your client’s expertise.

 

Think of finding a credible source to include in your pitch the same way as finding reliable information to cite in your college research paper. To evaluate the credibility of a source, remember the acronym “CRAP:”

 

  • Currency: How recently was it published? Find information published less than five years ago, preferably within the last two years.
  • Reliability: Does the information have evidence to support it? Look for the original source of information, not a news article that cites a source.
  • Authority: Is the author an expert in their field? Fact-check information you find and pay careful attention to the sample size and who or what organization conducted the research.
  • Purpose/point of view: Why was it written? Analyze any biases the source may have.

If you’re not sure if a source is credible, don’t risk it. Find an alternative you know is reliable.

 

Where do you find credible sources?

Credible sources can be subject-matter experts such as professors, researchers, licensed professionals, or high-ranking executives, as well as industry research published in a scholarly journal, by a government agency or well-known research group.

 

For example, when pitching a healthcare client, turn to the National Safety Council, American Hospital Association, and Department of Health & Human Services as resources. For business clients, look at facts and figures from the Census Bureau, National Association of Women Business Owners, and Small Business Administration. In your actual pitch to journalists, link to these credible sources in the body of your email. That way, the reporter can reference the report to get more information about the statistic.

 

Using evidence that does not come from a credible source of information will not convince the reporter you’re pitching that the claims in your pitch are plausible – or even correct – and certainly won’t convince them to write about your client.

 

Ready for us to put together a custom pitching strategy for you? Contact Lauryn Gray at lauryn@dittoepr.com, or request a consultation today.

Your AP Style Just Got SEOwned

Whenever you enter into a conversation about which skill is more important—writing for SEO or adhering to AP style—the debate always finds a way to take a volatile turn. Rather than discussing the merits and benefits of each skill, the conversation quickly dissolves into overly simplified and poorly constructed arguments. It becomes new school vs. old school. Writing like robots vs. writing like decrepit copy editors.

But why do so many people consider the two techniques mutually exclusive?

AP style was created to provide a comprehensible standard for writing in the print news medium which gave a diverse audience of readers a consistent experience.

SEO is ultimately about writing stories or copy that includes words that both machines and people will find easy to scan and understand.

If both AP style and SEO are designed to make content easier for the reader to access and comprehend, why is there so much fuss about which technique is more credible?

Much of the hostility is aimed at SEO and stems from a misunderstanding of how it should be appropriately used. To be fair, there are entire schools of thought devoted to exploiting SEO in order to capture the attention of Google’s algorithms so that your content reigns supreme. When used (or misused) in this way, SEO has a habit of creating awkward, difficult to read writing.

SEO, however, should never be used to determine the direction of your writing. Rather, it should be something that writers reference—like they do their AP Stylebook—in order to get the most out of their content.

The general fallback argument for naysayers is that good content shouldn’t need to rely on SEO. True. Well-written content can attract readers and thereby rise to the top of Google searches. But with the massive volume of content that is generated and indexed every day on search engines, your content better be pretty darn amazing if it’s going to cut through the clutter without any SEO help. If a tree writes a blog post in a forest, and no search engine is around to index it, does it get read?

In the end, AP style and SEO should not conflict with one another. Each was devised to make content easier for the reader to digest. When used correctly, the average reader shouldn’t even be able to tell if either was used.