How to Find a Source for Your Story

finding a source for your storyFinding a source for your story involves knowing the purpose of writing it in the first place. Is it to educate, or entertain? Is it to inspire or to sell a product or services? Finding a source has a lot to do with knowing what interests your readers and what you feel best about covering with your writing skills. Sources can be as simple as an inspiration that you then do additional research. It can be a photo or a news story that you decide needs more in-depth exploration. Finding a source for your inspiration can be a Google search, a walk outside, a browse through the local newspaper, or a walk downtown.

If you are working to find new ways to inspire readers about your key website topic, a good place to start is with the news. Finding the right keywords to search for new news about your area of expertise can be surprising. Learning new things yourself is part and parcel of discovering exactly the right source, and your excitement is usually what tips you off to the right-fit discovery.

Perhaps you are writing a newsletter or posting an inspiring success story on your Facebook page regularly. It can get difficult to always be working to find new information. Finding a way to consistently provide new, fresh inspiration can provide for a lot of frustration if you aren't sure where to look..

When you find dependable sources that inspire, provide education, news or other interesting material-- nurture and cultivate these relationships. Your source will be someone who has deeper knowledge of your topic than you do. It will be someone who has access to more information or news or ideas or facts, or has retained/studied or had access to much more of this content.

For those looking for news this source might be a police or fire chief. For someone writing about education this person can be a school principle or university professor, and so on. When blogging, it is important to become a trusted information source for your topic, so the information needs to be presented in a professional manner and contain accurate, compelling and factually correct content.

A source can also be a company, a sports team, a medical clinic with a special focus, a dentists office with a special focus, etc. Find juicy content from the place where large amounts of your information reside, waiting to be extracted and transformed into a story.

Focusing on the information your readers want most is the best compass toward your source that your can utilize. You can also find competitors or information from the other or counter side of your issue to write on. For fact-based consideration, highlighting both sides of your topic is very wise and helps to show an open-minded, fair viewpoint.

Resist the temptation to wander off your focus to cover interesting things you are not promoting as your specific area of expertise, focus or topic, as this can lead to a loss of readership. People like to receive what they ask for, and come for a specific purpose. This means unless this is part of what they expect, use caution when feeling inspired to wander off-topic.

Finding fresh content that is compelling to readers can be an exciting adventure that leads to new relationships, enhanced story telling and satisfied readers. For those doing it for business-- it can lead to on going relationships online with those who value your expertise, products and services. It can enhance productive lifestyles on every level.

Discovering high quality on going sources of rich content is every writers dream come true. Creative license, inspired compositions and plain old fun-to-read stories is a wonderful thing to have to offer others. Regardless if you blog for fun, business or for activism, tapping a deep well of information enhances everyone's lives.

Taping your source for content takes organized thinking, a list of priorities, an understanding of what your readers want and expect, and a clear approach to detailed and talented story writing. There are many places online that offer simple and effective writing tips to help enhance what you are doing. If you feel a need to improve your story writing skills, use the source finding skill to discover simple steps to more compelling stories, as well.

Finding your source is satisfying. Like an information meal, so to speak. And regardless if you are providing burgers and fries, a gourmet entree or a home cooked banquette, those satisfied feelings will continue with every fresh story you post.

How to Localize a News Angle

localizing a news angleIf the digital revolution has delivered one thing, it’s news. Think about it – just a few generations ago, the news came once a day in print, in the form of the local newspaper on the porch; and once a day on TV, when you settled down after dinner to check in with Walter Cronkite or, a few years later, Dan Rather or Peter Jennings.

Today, the news cycle runs 24/7. You never stop getting headlines, stories, videos and podcasts from all manner of online news services. The Internet has made our world smaller – you can now know immediately what goes on across town, around the country and in the far reaches of the world.

The prevalence of news opens up new opportunities for upcoming bloggers and online publications. When you localize a particular story via a blog entry, article, YouTube or other kind of content, you can target people in your community who are searching for this information.

For nearly any kind of story, from an earthquake to an oil spill to the presidential election, you can likely find an angle to enhance understanding, outline the local impact, and engage people in your community.

Steps to localizing a news angle

Not every breaking news story has an immediate local tie-in, but you need not waste time and energy on creating new content if you follow some strategic steps first:

  • Determine the local impact of a national, or even international, news story. An earthquake in China may seem less than relevant to Mercer Island, Washington – but its significance grows when you consider the Chinese-American population in that town exceeds 7 percent.
  • Next, keep an ear to the ground over what local people are discussing. You can find views on community sites and social media, of course, or just sit in the neighborhood diner and listen in on the regulars. What stories are hot – politics, climate change, immigration? Any broad topic could be a good reason to interview local experts.
  • Look for stories that are similar to events in your community. Hurricane Sandy’s wrath was widely reported in New York and New Jersey, but that same storm system also affected a wide swath of the Midwest, where people surely have stories to share.
  • Determine what your local angle can add to the news story. Some stories have clear tie-ins, such as news that affects public policy or groundbreaking stories like Colorado’s 2012 passage of marijuana legalization. You can find views and reactions from local people to news from the national or global scene.
  • Use social media to identify interview sources for your news angle. Ask directly from your own page for people to interview, or do a search on the topic.

Posting and publicizing your localized news angle

Once you have localized a news angle, determine the best online content vehicle to present it. An article or blog is easily searched via SEO keywords, but don’t underestimate the drawing power of a YouTube video or even a Pinterest board if the story is highly visual.

  • Add a call-to-action in your content to encourage viewers to follow up at your website’s landing page, where they may exchange contact information for more valuable content – affording you a chance to develop the visitor into a qualified lead.
  • Use email marketing to send your news stories to relevant customers and prospects. Doing so can position you as a thought leader and community advocate.
  • Finally, publicize your content along with ready-to-view hyperlinks, on your Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn – both your page and relevant local news pages – to encourage sharing and comments.

Scoop the competition Delivering local angles to national and global news can build your credibility, net you a new or more targeted audience, and ultimately enhance your web traffic.

How to Conduct an Interview for Your Business Blog

conducting an interviewIf you are ever out of blog post ideas for the day, then fill the gap by interviewing someone, such as a thought leader within your organization or within your industry. Just a 10-minute conversation can offer enough information to create one or two unique, excellent posts that will certainly engage your readers. However, if you haven't conducted an interview before, it can be a difficult thing to do. Over the holiday weekend, we were looking for great articles to share on social media this week. We came across the post that we thought was an interview post and would be an awesome share, except that the post was too short and was no interview at all. The lines were just pulled from a webinar the writer attended, and didn't actually talk to the person mentioned. Instead of doing the interview post the easy, (and disengaging) way, do it the right way by following these tips:

Prepare Questions Before the Interview

Tip 1: If you have the time, even just a few hours, then its best to prepare a few questions ahead of time. This way, you don't waste time during the interview trying to come up with questions, and you can take the time to do a little research you can ask good questions.

Tip 2: Make sure ask questions that involved the 5Ws and the H. Open ended questions make better source material than simple "yes or no" questions. Even if the questions seem stupid or have an obvious answer, ask them anyway. You are just doing the interview to learn a thing or two, but to gather some great quotes to put in your upcoming blog post.

Tip 3: Don't be afraid to ask tough questions. If you know of a hole in a person's philosophies, ask about it. If there's a controversy going on in your industry, ask about it. However, save these questions for the end of the interview to earn your source's trust and to avoid an overall awkward interview.

Tip 4: Ask follow up questions, or questions that come to mind as the person is talking. No one says that you have to only ask questions from you list.

Doing the Interview

Tip 1: If possible, do the interview in person, with phone as a the second best choice. Email interviews are the worse because they don't leave much option for following, or any chances to read body language or to hear tone (to see if the person is lying or is simply rattling off PR talk)

Tip 2: Don't interrupt the person, even if you've already gotten the main point or if the person is being redundant. It's just rude, and will ruin the atmosphere of the interview.

Tip 3: A great way to end the interview is to ask the person if he/she has anything to say that you haven't asked about yet. This gives the person a chance to include anything that they think is important, and sometimes could include vital information that you would have otherwise missed.

Include Direct Quotes in the Final Post

This was one of the biggest mistakes in the interview post that we found. The writer just pulled lines from a webinar, and didn't bother to talk to the person directly. The direct quotes are the best part! So, don't shortchange your readers by summarizing or including hum-drum sentences that don't offer anything compelling. A direct quote looks something like the example below, and offers insight that only that particular person could provide (that last part is crucial, as it was makes a great direct quote from a so-so one that anyone could say):

Customers would be willing to pay $11 more a month for a mobile phone company they actually trust," co-author Martha Rogers said. "[A trustable company will]* keep you posted on what’s good for you about the business, and offer things that are valuable to you instead of making you search for everything from scratch."

*Brackets are used in direct quotes to help clarify what the person is saying while using words the person didn't actually say. In this example, Rogers actually said, "they" in the interview, but using "they" would be vague unless you participated in the full interview.

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