How to Work with Journalists to Get Free Publicity for Your Nurse-Owned Business

In my 20+ years as a freelance writer, I’ve often worked as a journalist. Along the way I’ve learned a few things about what makes a good source, and I’d like to share them with you so you can reap the rewards of free publicity. Nurses Entrepreneurs HowTo

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How to Work with Journalists to Get Free Publicity for Your Nurse-Owned Business

What Does it Mean to Be a Source?

Journalists constantly require sources (people) to provide expert information and quotes for their stories. As a nurse who owns a business, you can bring a unique perspective to a journalist’s story about some newsworthy event in your line of work. For instance, if a journalist is working on a story about the staffing difficulties hospitals face during the nursing shortage, that journalist might welcome the input of a nurse who owns a healthcare staffing agency - because she's likely seen both sides of that coin.

When you agree to serve a source, you allow the journalist to interview you and use your quotes without compensation. The “compensation” to you will be having your business name in the publication. You may also be asked to provide a photograph (headshot or something else) to help illustrate the article.

This free publicity is worth its weight in gold, because:

  • It positions you as an expert
  • It raises the profile of your business
  • Being quoted in a news article confers credibility in the eyes of your target audience
  • It costs you nothing but a few minutes of time

Think about it. When you see an expert quoted frequently in the media, don’t you tend to think they must be the top person in their field? Your customers will think that about you, too, if you regularly serve as a source to journalists.

How to Become a Source

To get started working with journalists, you can pursue several courses of action:

  • Send press releases about your business regularly to editors and reporters at your local news outlets (but only if you have something truly newsworthy to announce)
  • Register with PR Newswire PR Newswire (involves a fee)
  • Register with Help A Reporter Out (aka “HARO” – fee-based)
  • Follow and engage with reporters on
  • Connect with journalists on LinkedIn

It’s also perfectly acceptable to contact reporters directly to offer yourself as a source. For instance, if you routinely read a particular trade publication, feel free to contact any of the reporters (but not all of them) with a simple note to say, “I enjoy your work on X topic and want to offer myself as a source if you ever need background or a quote on Y (your particular topic of expertise).”

How To Be A Great Source

Working with journalists is all about cultivating relationships. If you’d like to become a source that reporters turn to again and again, follow these tips:

STEP 1 Be available.

Journalists often work on very tight deadlines (sometimes the same day), so try to make time to take a brief phone call on short notice. Also, if you arrange an interview appointment, be sure to have your phone in hand to take the call. Journalists (myself included) find it incredibly annoying when we call and call at the appointed hour only to have our call go to voicemail repeatedly.

STEP 2 Don’t ask for payment or compensation of any kind.

It’s unethical for a journalist to pay a source or to offer any kind of non-cash compensation. Please don’t request it.

STEP 3 Don’t ask or expect to review your quotes or the story prior to publication.

When being interviewed, take your time to respond to the reporter’s questions. Choose your words deliberately. And then do not request to review or revise your quotes later because you wish you’d said something else. Legitimate journalists never allow sources to review the story or their quotes.

STEP 4 Be courteous.

In my life as a health reporter, I’ve interviewed some surgeons that certainly would qualify as “pompous asses.” Don’t be them. If a journalist asks you a question you consider “dumb” or “beneath you,” please remember that a reporter’s job is to obtain as much information as possible, sometimes including very basic facts about the topic.

STEP 5 Offer additional resources.

The best sources do a bit of research in advance, when possible, and point the journalist toward websites or professional associations where they can obtain background information, or they offer their own PDFs or slide decks from lectures or anything else of value related to the subject matter.

Questions about how to become a great source for reporters? Post your questions below!


Elizabeth Hanes BSN RN is 'the nurse who knows content.' For a decade she has helped major healthcare brands communicate with their target audiences to build relationships and drive business results. Learn more about Elizabeth at RN2Writer.

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RNat55, ADN, RN

1 Article; 55 Posts

Certainly food for thought. Thanks for sharing!

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