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How Sources magnifies your Internet visibility

When you search for the word “sources” in Google, you get 640,000,000 hits.

That’s 640 million.

Out of that huge number of hits, which is Number One?
The very first site listed at the very top of the very first page?

Not to keep you in suspense — it’s Sourceswww.sources.com.

That’s just one indication of Sources’ high profile.

Of course, Google isn’t the only search engine; it’s just the most well-known one. Other search engines use different technologies — that’s why professional researchers, such as journalists, don’t rely on just one tool.

Take Yahoo — the most popular site on the Internet. Search for the word “sources” on Yahoo, and you get about 400 million hits. That top page looks rather familiar, though: once again www.sources.com is #1: the top result on the first page.

Or search for “sources” on MSN (the #2 site on the Interest). Yes, www.sources.com is #1 there too.

Do you prefer the AltaVista search engine? If you search for “sources” on AltaVista, you get 411 million hits. And — no surprise! — www.sources.com is once again #1.

Sources has a great profile on the Internet. Coming up #1 when people search for your specialty is something everyone aims for. We’ve achieved it, in spades.

But the point of achieving the #1 spot it is not to boost our egos (though we are proud of it!), but to enhance our ability to help our customers to raise their profile.

Common misconceptions

Sometimes we still encounter people who tell us they don’t need Sources “because we have our own Web site” or because “everybody knows us”.

The people who say this are almost invariably people whose expertise lies somewhere other than in public relations or marketing.

The professionals know better. You don’t hear successful businesses saying “we don’t need to promote ourselves — people who want to buy something from us can always track us down if they really want to”.

Everybody has ‘heard of’ Coca Cola, but Coca Cola doesn’t stop advertising because ‘everybody knows us’, let alone because ‘we have a Web site’. Coca Cola has been actively promoting itself, every single day, for decades, in hundreds of different ways (including by listing in Sources), because their objective is not to be ‘known’ in a general way, but to have people think of them at the crucial moment, i.e., when they are thirsty and ready to buy a drink.

The object of a sophisticated media relations or public relations strategy is similar. The point is not to be ‘known’ in a vague and general way, but to get journalists to call you when they are doing a story on your issues.

Giving reporters what they need

This is the job Sources excels at. Reporters and broadcasters need knowledgeable sources to interview and quote when they write stories or line up guests. The Sources directory is commonly the first place journalists turn to when they need to find experts and spokespersons, because Sources gives them what they most need in their day-to-day work: a wealth of human contacts offering a wide range of views and expertise, ready and willing to speak to the media.

When you are in Sources, your media profile, including your expertise and your contact information, is there working for you whenever a reporter turns to Sources, as they do thousands of times every week. More than one thousand journalists a day use the Sources Web site to find the spokespersons they need. Every time they do, each one looks at an average of five or six listings to find the most appropriate contacts to call. In addition, more than 10,000 copies of the print edition of Sources are in use on journalists’ desks at this very moment. Every time they use Sources, in print or online, your media profile is right there, telling them about you.

The main problem that journalists face every day is finding sources. They need to find experts and spokespersons who have expertise about the topic and who are willing to speak to the media about it and who can be reached quickly and easily.

And that’s exactly why Sources was created. Sources helps journalists find the sources they need — quickly and easily. And by doing so, we help the organizations listed in Sources get media coverage — by leading journalists right to you.

The pros use Sources -- and they list themselves in Sources

The media relations experts know this. That’s why they use Sources, that’s why they recommend Sources, and that’s why they list themselves in Sources.

And in fact one of the strongest testimonials to how well Sources works is that the media experts themselves pay to be included in Sources.

Organizations like the Canadian Marketing Association, the Canadian Public Relations Society, the Canadian Association of Journalists, the Professional Writers Association of Canada, the Canadian Media Guild, the Canadian Newspaper Association, Magazines Canada, CCN Matthews, and the Canadian Business Press association, as well as the top business colleges like Queen's School of Business, Schulich School of Business, and the Joseph L. Rotman School of Management. Not to mention hundreds of media-savvy businesses and organizations ranging from the Royal Bank to Greenpeace who list themselves in Sources not as a substitute for their other PR efforts, but as a valuable enhancement.

Harnessing the power of the Internet with Sources

Our high Internet profile is so important because it increases Sources’ effectiveness.

The Internet ranking service Alexa (www.alexa.com) tracks the usage and reach of millions of Web sites — how many people visit each Web site, how often they visit them, and how many pages they look at when they visit them.

The Alexa rankings show that Sources is in the top 2.5% of all ranked Web sites worldwide. Out of the roughly seven million Web sites that are important enough to be included in the ranking system, more than 97% are ranked lower than www.sources.com, and only about 2.5% are ranked higher.

This is a phenomenal achievement, especially when you consider that Sources is a site for professional users, meaning it has an inherently limited potential group of visitors (journalists and researchers), whereas many other sites are for the general public. Bear in mind, too, that Sources is a Canadian site, being measured against sites not only in Canada but the U.S., Europe, and Asia.

But the most important point about this is what it means for organizations listed in Sources.

It means that having a Sources listing — especially when your listing is further enhanced by your free news release postings on the Sources Web site and your free Sources Calendar entries — greatly increases your odds of being found by journalists working on stories related to your areas.

A typical example

Recently, in the midst of a controversy about the safety of organic produce, the Canadian Organic Growers (COG), a Sources listee, took advantage of the privileges of their membership to post a news release about this topic on the Sources Web site. They also posted the same news release on their own Web site.

So what happens when you do a Google search, the kind a journalist might do, for the words
organic products regulation Canada”?

First of all, note that you get approximately 4,420,000 hits. Obviously no journalist is going to wade through page after page of results to find a contact. They’re going to look at what appears on the first page — or, if nothing useful appears there, they might check the second page of results.

On that first page of results, the first few are for government Web sites: not surprisingly, since the government is introducing the new regulations. Most likely, though, the journalist is looking for someone from industry or from consumer groups to comment on the new government regulations.

And what he or she will find on that crucial top page of Google results is the COG news release — the version of the release posted on the Sources Web site. The COG’s identical version of the release on their own Web site appears nowhere on either the first or second page of the Google search results. (It does appear halfway down Page 3, but the vast majority of Google users never look further than the first page of results.)

Why does this happen? Why does a Google search put the Sources result so near the top, and the COG result, with exactly the same text, so much further down as to render it almost invisible?

It comes out this way because Sources is a very highly ranked site, and Google sorts results according to the ranking of the originating site. Sources has a Google Ranking that is only slightly below that of major Canadian sites like the Toronto Star, the Globe and Mail, CTV, the Weather Channel, Canada 411, and the National Library of Canada.

Another important measure, similar to ranking, is “reach”. Sources has a “reach” that is about 14 times as great as the COG site. As a result, when a search engine encounters the same information on the COG site and the Sources site, it automatically puts the Sources result near the top, and the COG result much further down.

Is this a problem for Canadian Organic Growers? Not at all: because they have a Sources listing. Their Sources listing — with the accompanying benefits, including the free news release postings — multiplies their own reach. It leads reporters to them who otherwise would never know they exist. By being in Sources and posting their release on www.sources.com they accomplish their goal. Their news release makes it onto the top page of Google. Journalists see it, click on it, and read it on the Sources site. The release states their position on the issue, and it contains the name and phone number of their contact person — plus a link to their Sources listing, and a link to their own Web site. They get calls. Their position gets media coverage.

This is Sources working exactly as it is supposed to work — and benefiting a listee exactly as it should.

And it happens all the time. Our clients continuously use Sources’ reach to multiply their own reach.

There is another very important thing to note about this example: In the Google results, there are five industry associations which are listed ahead of the Canadian Organic Growers site in the results, but behind the Sources result. In the deadline-driven world of the media, it is extremely likely that one or more of those five associations would have got the reporters’ calls instead of the COG, simply because they were on a higher-up page. Being in Sources enabled the COG to leapfrog into a more prominent spot in the results. And that makes all the difference: the difference between getting called and not getting called.

The benefits of reach

But what if an organization has a very highly ranked Web site of its own? Does that mean they don’t need Sources?

Absolutely not. First of all, the magnification of impact still occurs. If your Web site has approximately the same “reach” as Sources (and remember, more than 97% don’t), being in Sources still doubles your reach. Nothing at all wrong with that.

Secondly, and even more importantly, our reach is primarily to journalists, not to the general public. Even in the unlikely event that an organization's Web site is ranked higher than Sources, the fact still remains that it is reaching a general audience of people interested in the organization, while their Sources listing will reach journalists specifically.

These journalists, by the way, are more often than not totally new to the subject of the story they have been assigned to cover. They don't know who to call — but they know that using Sources will find them sources they can call and interview.

So a Sources listing is more likely to found by reporters, and therefore to result in media coverage.

However, because the Sources site is so prominent on the Internet, it obviously also attracts a certain percentage of people who aren’t journalists. This can be a nice fringe benefit of a Sources listing. We came across a perfect example of this recently when one of our listees, a clinic specializing in cosmetic procedures, called to tell us that their Sources listing, which they’d placed solely with the intention of getting media coverage, was also resulting in so many calls from people who wanted to book appointments that they had to put a phone number in their listing for the people calling to book appointments. All of these people had done an Internet search on these cosmetic procedures, found the clinic’s Sources listing, and then called for an appointment.

Finally, a word about the Sources print directory. Despite the impressive reach of the Sources Web site, people keep asking for the print directory. They still like it. They still use it, especially for coming up with story ideas, a priority for the thousands of freelancers out there. Journalism schools regularly request copies of the print version for all their students, even though their students obviously have access to the Sources Web site. They tell us there’s no substitute for browsing through a printed book. We’ve even received a special advance order for 1,000 extra copies of the Winter 2007 edition.

All that makes us happy too.

Print or online, it all adds up to this: Sources works.

Include yourself in Sources (PDF form you can fill out)

or call us at 416-964-5735

For more information:

See who else is listed in Sources - Alphabetical list of organizations and businesses who list themselves in Sources.

See the topics journalists have searched for in Sources - This is a list of subjects which have been searched for recently. You may choose additional topics not listed here if they relate to your expertise: being the first to list under a topic can be an advantage. For lists of all available headings (sorted by category) see here.

Publicity Plus - More information on how you can raise your profile and get media coverage with Sources.

Sources news release services - Publicize your views and accomplishments.

HotLink.ca - A media relations resource from Sources featuring information and articles dealing with publicity, media relations, and public relations.

Sources media training - Customized courses on effective media relations.

Media Names & Numbers - A comprehensive directory of the Canadian media, available in print, online, and as a database.

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