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Brand journalism: How to find diverse sources

A photo of Margot Lester's pledge for Martin Luther King Jr. DayOur content is better when it's informed by a diverse group of people. We've always tried to include a range of sources in our work, but this year we made a formal commitment to diversifying our source lists by specifically seeking out women and people of color.

After I posted about that as part of our Martin Luther King Jr. Day pledge, several folks have asked how we're doing it. So here you go.

4 ways for find diverse voices for content

  1. Look for Trade & Professional Groups. We'd done something similar to this a few years ago for a cybersecurity client. All the sources they suggested and most of the ones who responded to our ProfNet and HARO queries were dudes. So we started connecting with experts on Women in Security and Privacy and Women in CyberSecurity and were able improve our coverage with insights from a diverse group of female professionals. This year we discovered Black Women in Public Relations.
  2. Rely on Referrals. I saw an opportunity to include more PoCs in our healthcare contacts, so I went back to an African-American woman I profiled last year and asked her to recommend a few colleagues. Then I asked them to do the same. We've rolled this out across all our verticals.  The last question in every interview we do is "Can you suggest a PoC or woman who would be good to speak with on this topic?" And I reached out to friends and connections for a referrals and suggestions. Sure, it's awkward when someone doesn't have any names to offer, but maybe that will prompt them to do something about that.
  3. Develop Agency Contacts. Our agency list was embarrassingly white male-owned, so I connected with PoC PR pros on LinkedIn and hopped on Google to find top PoC-owned agencies for our database.
  4. Utilize Social Media. We've also been experimenting with posting queries directly to LinkedIn and Twitter with a specific request for PoC and women experts. For example, I found a terrific source for a staffing story through a LinkedIn post. I'm also investing time finding and following more PoC experts and academics (check out @citeblackwomen), and amplifying their voices so others can find them, too.


Our efforts are ongoing, and I like the results we're getting so far.

How diverse are your source lists? How to you find new sources, and could you do more to include a more diverse array of experts?

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