New(ish) resource for contributor finding online

Getting Ink Requests is a resource aimed at journalists seeking contributors of all kinds.

Any journalist can post up a request, and await a response either from members of the public or PR types who mosey on by.

It’s an interesting idea, especially given the novelty of some of the requests I’ve been reading through.

This post is a good example of just how hard it can be to find contributors in journalism. The poster in question is looking for women to talk about “the biggest mistake they ever made”.

This one is a real nutcracker, but in keeping with the whole ‘practice what you preach’ schtick, I’m going to give it a bash here.

My initial instinct is to suggest going to a forum where lots of women are talking about their lives – like Mumsnet – and post a request there.

The focus of Mumsnet is on parenthood, which is a possible area in which women might have made a pretty big mistake(!) Its then worthwhile thinking about other key areas where mistakes can have a big affect on women’s lives – careers, relationships, sex, health.

Once you’ve got a long enough list, it’s worth finding out if there are any groups in social networks which might provide contributors. For example, this group in Facebook is aimed at singles, while this Google Group is for professional women.

If these fail, its a good idea to think of a profession which might help put you in touch with people. The only non-themed professions I can think of which might help here would be counsellors or therapists (though of course this assumes the women in question have sought help with their problems).

In which case, this directory of psychotherapists, or the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) site would be good places to start.

If I were in work, I would direct the journalist in question either to a newspaper cuttings database, or internal archives system to see if this theme has cropped up before, and who contributed then.

One last thing, academic case studies are a good place to look for real life experiences – this advanced search of Google Scholar returned quite a few potential leads, from an array of different backgrounds (from an article on farm women, to a BMJ readers’ feature).

But getting back to the site, this type of source is certainly not unique.

Askcharity is the place to go for case studies or practitioners/experts if you’re working on an ‘issues-based’ theme (and with a bit of tweaking here and there, the case study search above might benefit from this source). Profnet is it’s equivalent in the field of academic expertise, while The Legal Hub provides a means of contacting expert witnesses. But there are countless others out there in various niches too.

There are editorial issues concerning the finding of contributors via third-party sites like this, not least the potential for the self-selecting and self-obsessed to use the media to their own advantage/agenda.

But as long as everyone goes into the process with their eyes open, then this risk can at least be managed.

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2 Responses to “New(ish) resource for contributor finding online”

  1. slewfootsnoop Says:

    POSTED ON BEHALF OF SALLY TUTTLE

    Hi,

    Please feel free to post this to comments, I didn’t want to go to the hassle of registering and logging in, sorry!

    I noticed you’ve linked to Getting Ink Requests (not Getting Ink Results) which is great, thanks – however, it’s worth noting the site wasn’t set up by Rob McGibbon and I’m not sure why you’d think it was? I am a freelance journalist, and I set up the site to accompany my own blog, at http://www.gettingink.typepad.com. I’ve never worked with Rob McGibbon, but we have profiled him in a journalist profile section.

    I also noticed you’d commented about the site not being unique. However, I believe the site is unique in the UK. Services like Profnet, Gorkana and Response Source charge upwards of £2,000 a year for businesses to subscribe to requests, and Netmums charges journalists £30 a time to post a media request. Our site is the only service I’m aware of that is completely free to both journalists and subscribers.

    What this means in practice is that our user base is far broader than the PR-driven businesses using Response Source, and it also means we get a lot of traffic reaching the site through social bookmarking, search engines and similar. For example, we had a journalist looking for someone who had attended a particular school in the 1980s, and the request was seen by someone who was searching for articles about her old school using Google. We are read by a lot of writers, small businesses, charities and NGOs that simply couldn’t afford the fees charged by the commercial services.

    I set up the site earlier this year because I was sick of getting the same responses from the same companies through the likes of Response Source and Gorkana. It was always big companies with big PR budgets and new things to plug.

    The idea of the blog is simply to use the internet to link into the wider social network – after all, everyone knows someone who knows someone. We’ve been running a few months now and we’ve grown very organically as word spreads from one person to another – we now have 1,000 plus subscribers using our email, Twitter and RSS feeds plus another 200 visitors a day to the site.

    (Oh, and if someone is looking for parenting stories, I’d definitely give us a try – as well as the fact that many of our readers will naturally be parents, we have two doula companies and a private midwife subscribing to our feed, two parenting coaches and two pre-school activity franchises, as well as a number of teachers.

    Thanks

    Sally Whittle

  2. slewfootsnoop Says:

    Hi Sally,

    First of all, apologies for the slip RE: the site’s provenance. I’ve tried re-tracing my steps, and still can’t understand how I got it wrong either – I’ve ammended it now.

    I take on board also what you say about the ‘uniqueness’ angle RE: the costs involved. It’s a fair point – and something which would no doubt be worth bearing in mind for freelancers, ‘citizen journalists’, and student journalists.

    Though I should point out AskCharity is free to all users (albeit students are discouraged from using the Answer Service).

    Thanks though for your mail, and further background on the site – that’s a pretty impressive subscriber list you have there.

    Funny you should bring me back down to earth today of all days – when I had a blogpost published on Regret The Error:

    http://www.regrettheerror.com/online/didja-hear-the-one-about-the-teenager-who-bought-hookers-with-a-stolen-credit-card

    Believe me, the irony is not lost!

    Murray.

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