Story Source Newsletter: FAQ

Are you thinking about signing up for Jeff Vance’s Story Source Newsletter, but you’re not sure what exactly it is all about?

Then, check out the following FAQ, which should answer most of your questions:

Why start your own newsletter/database when tools like HARO are available?

Although in the past I’ve used tools like ProfNet and HARO to generate story leads and manage sources, I haven’t been 100% pleased with either (and that goes for LinkedIn queries too). ProfNet is rather unwieldy. HARO is more streamlined, but the service is now taking more aggressive steps to shield journalists from sources, creating an ever bigger divide between the two. That makes perfect sense for some types of coverage, but for technology and business stories, I think it’s a mistake.

Moreover, since copywriting and content marketing make up anywhere from 50 to 75 percent of my business, keeping the lines of communication open with marketing pros and vendors is essential for my business.

Why should I subscribe to your newsletter?

Once you’ve signed up for the newsletter, you’ll receive regular updates about the stories I’m working on—before I put out any HARO, ProfNet or LinkedIn queries. You’ll have a head start on the competition and have a better chance of seeing your clients used as sources for my stories.

Are there any other benefits to subscribing?

PR and marketing pros who subscribe will get occasional feedback from me (time permitting) to help you refine your pitches to meet my sourcing needs and increase your chances of getting your client used as a source.

Other times, I will send out general tips on content creation, pitching, working with difficult clients, etc.

I will also alert you to published stories. If your client was used as a source, you’ll be directed to the story (assuming you haven’t already found it via Google Alerts). If your client wasn’t in the story, you’ll get a better sense of the kind of story angles and data points that have resonance with me, which should help you with future pitches.

The newsletter will also simply open up the lines of communications. Instead of the typical hodge-podge, random communications when a story deadline is looming, a little organization means that I’ll get to know more marketing and PR people and the companies they represent. When I need information for a story, I’ll have a better stable of  trusted sources to turn to in a pinch.

What’s the catch (…or, what’s in it for you?)

I get flooded with pitches every time I post a query on HARO and the like. Unfortunately, most of those pitches aren’t very good. I have to wade through a bunch of vendor-focused boilerplate in order to dig up a useful data point or two.

Hopefully, subscribers to my newsletter will, over time, get a better idea of how to pitch to me. I’m hoping that the PR and marketing pros I work with will have a clearer idea of what works, what doesn’t, and what sorts of information I’m seeking in general.

In addition to alerting you to upcoming stories, I will also provide links to recently published ones. Of course, this can help you learn about my writing style, giving you a better idea of what to pitch, but it should help build up interest in my stories as well. When my stories post, I will ask Story Source Newsletter subscribers to Tweet about the stories, Digg them, StumbleUpon them, etc. to help drive traffic. The more traffic my stories get, the more assignments I’ll get. And, obviously, the more assignments I get, the more opportunities you’ll have to pitch me ideas.

I thought this was about sourcing stories. What are the tips all about?

When I first started sending out emails to people who subscribed to the newsletter, a bunch of subscribers started to send me questions about media relations. At least once a day, I would send out individual advice on things like how to craft targeted pitches, how to tell what editors want when they solicit contributed content, how to tell your client that their story won’t appeal to trade pubs, etc.

Rather than dealing with general topics on a one-to-one basis, I began posting my answers at the end of my Story Source emails. Now, due to the positive response, I try to include a tip in most of my emails. Check out my blog for the archives.

Are you going to spam me with offers or sell my information to other marketers?

No. And no.

On occasion, I will remind people that I offer copywriting and content marketing services, and I may provide links to knowledge products as I develop them, but those messages will be rare and will usually be located at the bottom of emails alerting you to story opportunities. The main benefit for me is that I will get higher quality pitches with more relevant information. And as I’m already finding, my newsletter helps generate word-of-mouth buzz for my services. When your clients need a writer for a white paper project or are seeking consulting services for content marketing, my name will be top of mind.

Does it cost anything to subscribe?

No. Subscribing to the Story Source Newsletter is free.

What do I do next?

Simply go to the Story Source Newsletter sign-up page and fill out the form and submit it. That’s it.

I have a great story idea, now. Can I pitch it to you now?

Absolutely. If you have a strong story idea that you think readers need to see, use my Pitch Your Idea form and pitch me directly through the website. My team will evaluate your pitch, and if it fits with any current assignments, we’ll be in touch. If it doesn’t fit with near-term assignments, but we like the idea, we’ll use it to pitch our own stories to our editors. Of course, if your pitch helps us land an assignment, you’ll be first up when it comes time to source the story.