A while ago, LinkedIn, the social networking website targeted to professionals, launched a feature allowing members to ask open questions to the members of their network (their direct connections as well as the connections of their connections).
On several occasions, I’ve seen questions from reporters or freelancers looking for sources pop up in this section of my LinkedIn homepage (I do have a few connections in the media industry so that might also explain why I see them on a regular basis).
However, a post written by Penelope Trunk, “10 Ways journalists can use LinkedIn,”, confirms this trend by the type of advice it gives:
5. Find an expert fast
The advanced search feature is the most powerful tools you can use on LinkedIn. You can search for any combination of keywords, job title, company, location, industry, and you can sort by “degrees away from you” to find people close to you in your network. This is a great way to find experts in almost any field or subject matter. You can also track down executives at companies.
7. Get responses to queries from non-PR types
Often, if you send a query to a place like PRLeads, you get mostly public relations people answering you. This works fine in most cases, but sometimes you need something different – for example a quote from a type of person who would not typically hire a publicist. LinkedIn’s Answers service allows you to ask questions to the network and get answers from a wide range of people. Answers are tied to the professional profile of the person who responded so you can quickly assess credibility and determine whether to contact the person.
Obviously, you should suggest this move to your experts who are used to deal with the media as you risk to be kept out of the loop.
If you are in charge of PR or media relations at your institution should also set up a profile and develop your own LinkedIn network. This will help editors, reporters or freelancers, who have started to use the social networking for their research, find you more easily.
Are you on LinkedIn? How do you use it?