What makes a good expert source?
This month, for a change, we’ve invited Stacey Meadwell, former national and sectors editor for key property title, Estates Gazette to share her thoughts on what makes a good expert source. Straight from the horses mouth… so listen up!
Stacey, can you tell us why expert sources are important for journalists?
In B2B journalism, expert sources are pretty much the life-blood for what you write.
They give you news stories, market analysis and comment for articles.
As a property journalist for 20 years, industry experts were who I turned to for feature ideas, quotes, confirmation and background information.
I had go-to people who had their finger on the pulse and was constantly adding to my list of regular contacts.
What I looked for in my network of experts was something interesting and different. It sounds simple but a lot of people I spoke to focused purely on what they were doing rather than thinking more broadly.
And what did you look for in a good expert source?
As regional and sectors editor, my job was to commission and write content that offered value or insight for our readers. So, I was looking for someone who wouldn’t just talk about what was happening but why it was happening and what the implications were.
My go-to people didn’t talk about a single deal they had done but instead would talk about how three similar deals had been done in three months, picking out an emerging trend.
A good expert source was someone who had an opinion and was prepared to tell it how it is or at least be pragmatic rather than always putting on a positive spin. I was once told I should be doing my bit to ‘talk up the market’ which just made me more sceptical.
But the people I’d call or meet for a coffee weren’t just those that had interesting insight, they were also reliable. They were easy to get hold of, were around at the arranged time for calls and didn’t make promises they couldn’t deliver.
Any horror stories?
Every journalist will have a horror story. I had a feature planned around a piece of research. The research was ‘on its way’ right up until two days before press when my source admitted they couldn’t deliver. It left with me two pages to fill last minute and burnt bridges.
In the days of digital media, journalists are under constant pressure to deliver and are always on deadline if they need a last-minute comment or opinion who are they going to call?
Stacey Meadwell was a journalist and features editor at EG covering London and the UK, as well as editing the sector supplements and UK Cities Investor Guide. She is now a freelance content writer, editor and moderator working with businesses within the built environment sector.
You can find out more about Stacey and her services here: https://staceymeadwell.com/
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