The dos and don'ts of responding to a journalist's request


So today, we’re talking about responding to those journalist requests.

Here is my advice on what to do and what not to do.

Do respond as quickly as you can

These requests are amazing because they come through often, but others will be responding to them, too. If you want yours to be noticed, make sure you reply as quickly as possible - that way, you’ll be at the top of the list.

Do follow their instructions

If a journalist makes a request for an expert, they will usually be explicit about how they want you to reply. If they say ‘please reply via email’ do NOT send them a direct message on social media. If they say ‘please lay out your response like this’ make sure you do. This might seem obvious, but trust me - I’ve had more responses that haven’t followed instructions than I can count. And the risk there? Not following instructions comes across as unreliable. If you don’t do as they ask, they probably won’t want to work with you.

Do make sure they have all your contact information

Share your website, work-related social handles and detail exactly how they can get hold of you (especially if you’re replying on Twitter where your email address might not be obvious).

Do remind them what request you’re replying to

Some journalists may be working on several pieces at once and may have put out more than one request for different types of expert. If you’re responding via email (away from their initial request) ensure you remind them in the body of the email which one you’re responding to.

Do give them a taster of your expertise up front

A great trick is to give them a pull-able quote (one they can ‘pull’ straight from your response and put in an article) up front when you reply. Of course, you can only do this if they give you an indication of the topic, but it gives them a taster of what you might have to say. If they’re on a really tight deadline, they’ll appreciate your initiative.

Do be prepared

As I’ve mentioned, these requests can move really quickly - so make sure you’re prepared with any assets (photos, press kits etc) for if and when the journalist replies. You’ll also need to be ready to give your response to any questions, often within a couple of hours. There’s nothing worse than getting a response to a request and then the expert going quiet!