In 30-plus years of doing this “journalism/content writing thing” (the official term, in case you’re wondering), I’ve conservatively filed 5,000 deadlines. Everything from police blotter entries about barking dogs in Pitman, N.J. to a highlight interview with Robert Downey Jr. In between those antipodes, I’ve often been tasked to build and burnish stories by finding just the right source.
For certain, it’s much easier thanks to the internet to find experts, authorities and spokespeople than just 20 years ago. Back then, we had softcover books that listed sources in a wide range of fields, which supplemented those other softcovers known as “phone books.” (I know: Testing your memory, right?) When Qwoted emerged, I became a believer long before I ever typed my first keystroke as Editor In Chief. Outstanding sources showed up to deliver the goods as soon as I put out a story query—often within hours.
Yet that doesn’t mean reporters like me will take just any old response from any old source. Demonstrating that you’re top notch means more than just replying on your reputation. For many scribes and in many cases, that will remain an unknown. The trick, insofar as Qwoted is concerned, revolves around building a robust profile that helps you stand out in an outstanding way.
If that intrigues you, let’s read on about getting the most mileage out of a profile on Qwoted—or anywhere, really—if you’re a source trying to dish out the secret sauce. After all, Qwoted is global. It casts a net across every area of journalism. And your informational input helps our system figure out the right opportunities for you.
1) Put a pro headshot in your profile
Smile for the camera means style in your profile. Yet it still surprises me how many people who’d otherwise have themselves taken seriously post headshots that look like something shot by a sixth grader with a box camera. To this day I still pull such photos off LinkedIn profiles, polish them in Photoshop and send them back to sources as a way of saying thanks for their help.
You needn’t be a first-class writer to grasp that a picture paints 1,000 blog words. A great photo is worth the investment, even if you need a professional shoot. In my headshot–the current version, that is–I try to convey confidence, professionalism and approachability. Think about your own attributes and get proactive. On a low budget? Smartphones take unbelievable photos these days, and even a well-lit selfie can work.
My head shot… circa 1988, that is.
2) Configure your interests
What irks a reporter? Got about five years and nothing at all better to do? But let’s start with this universal pet peeve: I can’t stand getting press releases about topics I’ve never covered in my life, from sexual dysfunction to who gets the pet labradoodle in a divorce fight.
For sources, a similar logic applies: You don’t want your inbox to become the target of irrelevant missives. This is crucial. Let our system know what topics you can speak to that tap your expertise and passions. This way, you’ll be notified of relevant opportunities instantly.
3) Tell Qwoted where you’ve been quoted and what you said
Adding comments under the “recent quotes” section shows off your pithy and lively side. In complementary fashion, links to “media” section articles can take reporters and interested parties straight to the outlets where you’ve weighed in as an expert.
You need not limit this to print. Links to videos and podcasts also belong here.
4) Let them know what you do professionally
So you’re an authority on estate taxes. That’s great—but where do you ply your expertise in the working world these days? Let reporters know by filling out your “work experience “section, and be sure to include any relevant past experience that shines a light on your know-how.
5) Give ’em a boffo bio
The significance of a concise, informative bio is no laughing matter. I’d say I’ve got at least four active bios floating around, each rejiggered to the role I play for a particular publication.
For many, the bio marks where a journalist will first learn something about you. I can’t stress its importance enough. Be sure to hit all the highlights you can but keep it tight. My Qwoted bio is 100 words and reads like this:
Based in Chicago, Lou is a Pulitzer Prize finalist and Polk Award recipient (team reporting). He spent 16 years with the Chicago Tribune as a syndicated DVD and personal finance columnist, writing coach and features section editor. He has contributed to Reuters, U.S. News & World Report, AOL’s WalletPop, the BBC, and dozens of other prominent publications worldwide. Lou is also the author of a journalism textbook, “Tap Your Passion: The Art and Heart of Reporting and Writing.” After hosting and engineering a banking podcast that scored 125,000 listens, he is the creator and host of “Bankadelic.” And of course, he’s most proud to be Qwoted’s Editor In Chief.
Parting thoughts: It’s a feat to be complete
We advise strongly that you add something in every data field. The more complete the profile, the higher in reporters’ search results you will surface. By the way: Share all relevant contact information, including your phone number wherever possible. Just because you haven’t yet responded to a query doesn’t mean a reporter won’t seek you out. And if the deadline is tight, only phone will do the trick. Ten simple digits. One more media opportunity.
Even if all this registers, you may well ask, “What does a textbook profile look like?” It’s a good idea to surf around Qwoted to get a sense of what grabs you. In the meantime, I invite you take a look at this one and this one as examples of excellence.
I like to think that at Qwoted, we’re just getting started. It’s been hard work building a best-in-class source/journalist platform. But what we make possible today is nothing like what you’ll see in the years to come. So get your profile together, keep it up to date and improve it over time. This ensures that you’ll enjoy all our innovations to come, every step of the way.
That said, the march of tech and AI in our field can never replace community. Your profile opens the door to connection. It took me at least a few thousand bylines to connect those dots.