Tips For Journalists
This is a full explanation of the ResponseSource journalist enquiry service and tips on the best ways to use it.
What is the ResponseSource journalist enquiry service?
It's a free, simple system which helps journalists gather information for independent editorial from PRs in all sectors. You can contact hundreds of PRs at once, saving you hours of research, and providing you with new contacts.
How does it work?
You fill in the form on the Journalist homepage and your enquiry is sent via email to PRs in the sectors you choose. It's also posted on our website, which is password protected, for subscribing PRs to view. If the PRs can help with your request, they will reply directly to you - you choose how, and give them a deadline.
What can I use the ResponseSource journalist enquiry service for?
Any information or help you need to prepare independent editorial. Facts, comment, background, interviews, products to review, statistics, photos, case studies, news.
Are there any limitations?
You cannot use the ResponseSource journalist enquiry service to request sponsorship or offer advertising. (See our acceptable use policy). Basically, if you're not a working journalist or broadcast researcher seeking information for the production of independent editorial, then ResponseSource is not for you.
About the form
We've kept it as short and flexible as possible. Here's an explanation:
PRs have certain press that they want to target – by providing the name and some information about your publication, you can be sure of both attracting the attention of PRs, and helping them decide if the information they have is relevant to your publication. You could include details on your readership, frequency, and the tone or approach of your magazine.
Nature of query:
You can give as much or as little information as you need to explain your needs. As a rule it helps to be as specific as possible – provide a synopsis if you can, and the kind of response you need – do you want to interview, and who? Do you need photography or should it be sent by post or to the magazine? Do you need to see products or just want some information? Do you hate attachments?
Remember the PR's reason for answering is to help their client - usually the advantage to them will be obvious (if you're asking for quotes and interviews or product information) but sometimes you'll need to point out the advantages.
You can use paragraphs but not formatting as the enquiry will be sent as a plain text email to PRs. When you press submit, you'll have a chance to go back and make changes if you aren't happy.
A deadline is compulsory because it governs how long your enquiry stays up on our website and means that PRs won't be replying months afterwards (unless you want them to!). It's usually better to err on the side of caution – if your deadline passes and you still need information or your needs change, you are welcome to submit a new enquiry.
You must select one contact method but you can choose as many as you like. Make sure you get it right or your replies could be very limited! If you need information sent by post, you can include your address in the "Nature of query" field.
If you provide your email address as one of your contact methods, you'll receive a copy of your enquiry by email so that you know it's been sent and can see what it looks like to the PRs.
Select the categories you feel are most relevant to your enquiry. Remember that the PRs will be looking for opportunities for their clients and choosing the right categories will help you get an accurate response. Try not to choose too many – take a look at the a-z category index to find the most relevant categories for your subject, and if you aren't sure, Contact us or email: email@example.com.
After you click submit you will see a proof of your enquiry. Check the deadline and contact details especially, then either make changes or post your enquiry using the buttons at the bottom of the page. Once your enquiry has been distributed (usually within 15 minutes) you will receive a copy by email which is identical to that sent to the PRs. (Note: - you'll only be able to receive this copy if you've given your email address as one of your contact methods) If you don't receive this email it's likely there has been a problem – please Contact us or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Once your enquiry has been sent, the PRs will contact you directly. In order to keep the service as effective as possible, we may restrict the number of categories an enquiry is sent to, and we may not release enquiries which are not suitable. But we interfere as little as possible and your enquiry can be in the PRs' in-boxes in as little as 15 minutes.
Used ResponseSource Before? Here are some advanced tips for better responses
- Be specific in your enquiry - this helps avoid vague or irrelevant replies. It often helps to specify information you don't want, or already have.
- Name the publication - you'll get better results as it's crucial for PRs that they know who you are writing for.
- You may get a lot of replies - some journalists set up a separate email account for ResponseSource enquiries to make filtering and filing easier.
- It can also help to specify instructions for replying - for instance "please use the subject line 'ResponseSource - reply for XYZ feature'"
- Get your enquiry in early - the longer the deadline you give the better quality the response will be. Play nicely - PRs are human too and will be more helpful if you're polite in your enquiry. If you're having trouble tracking down the PR for a particular company you can try using ResponseSource to ask them to get in touch – you'll also be able to hear from other similar companies that you might not even know about! You can send regular requests for ongoing projects such as monthly columns.
- If your first enquiry doesn't generate the response you need you can send another, being more or less specific, as you wish and making it clear that you are resending. But avoid sending the same query too many times - if you aren't getting responses it's probably just something the PRs can't help with. Contact us if you're not sure.
- Select categories carefully - succumbing to the temptation of selecting everything going is not likely to help your response. If you're looking for case studies for a women's magazine, pick Women's Interest and Beauty - PRs subscribing to that category will be expecting your enquiry and be much more able to help than those subscribing to Business & Finance or Construction & Property! Take a look at our guide to categories if you're having trouble choosing, or contact us.
Got all the responses you need? Feel free to send a thank-you enquiry to the same categories to save PRs from sending you info you can't use. Any additional ResponseSource tips are happily received.