Magazine articles, newspaper features and press releases need solid information. Research helps, but you can't just hit the Internet and hope for the best.
Interviewing professionals gives your work a spark others don't have - and step one is landing face time with somebody in the know.
Before contacting a potential source, you need to have a pinpoint focus on what you're writing. The more specific the source, the better. Say you're writing a piece on socialization in the kindergarten classroom - would you rather interview a high school principal and some teenagers or a kindergarten teacher and a bunch of five-year-olds? Common sense tells you who you need to ask.
Contact the person you'd like to interview. Don't know anyone? Use Help A Reporter Out or work through your social network to dig someone up.
If you've already pitched your kindergarten piece to "Psychology Today" and they've accepted, you can tell your source so. The important thing here is to honestly represent your work-to-be; if you've pitched and haven't heard back, tell your potential source that. If you intend to pitch it after it's written, that's okay too. Just make sure the source doesn't think you're working on behalf of an entity when you're not.
You don't have to meet your source in person, but you do need to be on time. You can Skype, use the phone or an instant messaging program, or whatever you're comfortable with - as long as you're in the right place at the appointed time. Let your source set the time, place and method of meeting; they're helping you out, remember?
What do you do to find potential sources? Do you usually meet them in person, by phone or correspond through email?
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© Angie Papple Johnston 2011.
Don't steal from me or I'll come getcha. Really... I've got that kind of time.
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