9 Reasons Journalists Aren't Using Your SourceBottle Responses

01 March 2024 Bec Derrington

Here at SourceBottle HQ, we're told our platform makes life easier for journalists and bloggers in this fast-paced industry, by giving media professionals easy access to subject-matter experts to quote/interview. 

However, as a trusted platform that's been around for over a decade, we've collected a lot of feedback (A LOT!) about the many reasons they appreciate the service, along with some frustrations they have with some user responses that may result in the journalist/blogger: 

  1. NOT using that response; AND
  2. (probably) NOT using any further responses from that user either.  

So, we thought it was only right that we SHARE these revelations to help you avoid falling prey to the traps that may see you 'blacklisted' by media professionals who might otherwise want to quote you in their next piece. 

So here goes… the nine reasons journalists AREN'T using your SourceBottle response: 

1. You haven't responded

Instead, you've asked a question. Yup...happens all the time. (Sigh.)

Every single SourceBottle call out seeks information of some kind. So we've been told that asking another question (instead of offering up answers) is enormously frustrating to journalists, perhaps resulting in the journalist who posted the call out reacting like this...

An example might be: 

"I know my client 'Jane Awesomeness' would be a perfect fit for your story. But just to confirm can you please let me know where her commentary would be published?"

Okay. Sure. Sounds fair enough. But... *this* is what a journalist is likely to read into a response like that: 

"I'm not going to bother unless it's worth my time and effort." 

Now you might feel it's reasonable to want to know the media outlet this journalist is writing for, but unfortunately that 'aint how the journalist sees it. Instead, and as a result, this is generally what the journalist does with this type of response...

A grim reminder that everyone's time poor and busy, so please just answer their question/s and hit "Send".

(Oh and remember that if the media outlet posting the call out has a little pink bottle beside their name, the call out is from a credible source.)

2. You haven’t met the brief (so your response = SPAM)

If the journalist is asking to interview a source with [insert a qualification, level of experience, located in X] and you're not a source with that [insert a qualification, level of experience, located in X], then you're not just wasting your time and their time, you're also adding to their already spam-stuffed inbox with even more irrelevant spam.

(Which incidentally is in breach of our t's and c's... see here.)

An example might be… 

"I know you're looking for qualified medical practitioners to get their medical views on weight loss tips, but I'm a PT with clients who have lost weight so I thought I should weigh in on the topic (pun intended)." 
"I know you're looking for cost-saving experts based in Australia, but in the US we have the same issue so I wanted to send through my expert tips for how to save money in a market downturn." 

No, journalists won't find it cute if you spam them with an irrelevant pitch in response to what they're looking for. And again, it's likely your response will be trashed.

3. TL;DR

Your response is waaaaaay long.

Media professionals are time poor so a good rule of thumb is to keep your response... long enough to convince the journalist that you are what they're looking for, but short enough to hold their interest to the end. (Read on for more on how to do this.)

4. Your response is too short

When we asked three seasoned media professionals which responses they would delete or ignore...

Founding editor of SHE DEFINED Sharon Green said: 

"I usually delete the responses that are too vague and haven’t gone to any trouble to address my call out. These are normally the one-line responses that say something like "I have an expert available for you to interview" but then they don't include any information about who that expert is or how they might be relevant for my story. 

"I usually delete the responses that are too vague and haven’t gone to any trouble to address my call out. These are normally the one-line responses...

"Other vague or low-effort responses that go straight to the bin include ones where they simply attach a generic press release but there is no context in how that information or expert might be positioned for my particular story. I don't mind that people send press releases for background information, but at least include a response that speaks to the call out." 

Australian freelance business and finance journalist Nina Hendy said: 

"If you're a PR... I do get quite a few saying, "We might have a client that’s interested but, we need to check. It's a really big turn off as a journalist. That's up for journalists to find out and qualify PRs, not the other way around...  

"If you're a PR... I do get quite a few saying, "We might have a client that’s interested but, we need to check. It's a really big turn off as a journalist." 

"Don't sort of bleed me for information on what the publication is. I'll tell you as soon as I can. And, sometimes, I won't say because while I certainly have a commission when I use SourceBottle, sometimes I can see another story in a call out response and I think, "That’s great. I'll keep that one because that's another story for next week"..."  

Award-winning journalist Gary Nunn said: 

"I delete the ones that are too concise. So the one liners - and there's quite a few of them - I normally don't go for them. They suggest to me that they haven't really got across the bridge and don't know what I'm looking for. 

"I delete the ones that are too concise. So the one liners..." 

"I also ignore the ones that are overtly promotional or suggest there's no way of telling their story without doing an overt promotion."

In other words, either go all in...or stay the hell out! 

5. Your response has been generated by AI. 

Now this is a newbie issue but registers a HUGE RED FLAG for journalists and bloggers alike.

Be warned, media professionals have quickly cultivated a keen sense for the sorts of responses that have been machine generated. 

Not only that, they too have access to exactly the same tools used to create an AI-generated response to their call out. And if they check (and they do!) and confirm that you've likely generated your response to their call out using AI tools like ChatGPT, they're hardly likely to attach any credibility to your response since you didn’t even write it.

As I used to say to my kids when they were acting out in frustration..."Use your words." (Not someone OR SOMETHING else's.) 

"Use your words." (Not someone OR SOMETHING else's.)"   

6. Your response is too late

You missed the deadline. Enough said. 

7. Your promised response/image never comes

Don’t overpromise and underdeliver when it comes to responding to call outs on SourceBottle. Worse yet, don’t ghost the journalist once you've got them interested in using your story. (True story.) 

8. You didn't attribute the response

It's very important to journalists that they accurately attribute comments/content to the original source, so if you didn't write it and have instead copied the hard work of someone else, make sure you attribute the content. In other words, if you didn’t write it, ensure you make it clear who did.

That's because if you don't attribute the content and the journalist finds out you've plagarised it (and trust me, they always do find out), this sort of behaviour is something that few will ever forgive or forget. 

"...if you don't attribute the content and the journalist finds out...few will ever forgive or forget." 
(And that includes content that may have been created some time ago. It's always best to time stamp older content to help the journalist decide if it's still relevant/pertinent.)   

9. They can't reach you... because you entered the wrong email address

Now this is something we're (here at SourceBottle) all too familiar with. And the reason it upsets us so much is because it's likely to mean that all your hard work was in vain

We get responses bouncing back to us on a daily basis, which means that the confirmation message you should have received from us (which includes a copy of your response for your records), can't reach you because the email address you entered was incorrect. This also means the journalist can't reach you either because said email address doesn't exist. :(

A simple tip is to always look out for our confirmation message. Then if you don't receive it, you'll know it's either in your junk folder or you've made a mistake. 

"A simple tip is to always look out for our confirmation message." 

We'd also recommend you include a phone number in your response, preferably your mobile, as an alternative. 

How to change your response-to-success rate from zero to hero

If you've found yourself guilty of any of the above and are looking to improve your results by making a meaningful change when responding to journalist call outs, our 'C.O.R.A' formula prompt is the key to success.

For the full run down on what this is and how to do it, check out our recent post: How To Respond To A Call Out On SourceBottle

Wishing you publicity success! 

PS: Are you receiving FREE publicity opportunities, straight into your inbox? 

No?!! (Wha?) 

Let's fix that... right here!