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 firstname.lastname@example.org, or request a consultation today.