The Best (Free) Tools For Journalists: LinkedIn for Journalists

Advice for Freelancers, Content Badasses, Managing Your Content Business

When I first began in television, I used to have to go down to the public library in New York City and pull public records to get in touch with everyone from the Governor of New York to my next-door neighbor to book them on the show I worked for. It was labor intensive, frequently difficult, and almost always a pain in the ass. 

These were the days when you maintained a massive Rolodex (which I had!) and protected it at all costs, taking it with you from job to job, because you never knew when you might need to call up the head of the UAW, or reach out to that popular stylist that worked with a guest on your show.

If you’re a freelancer or a full-time journalist, you know far too well how much work it takes to track down contacts, get anecdotes, and find the right person to connect with to book an interview. Just trying to find and connect with the right expert can take hours of research and more than a few wrong turns.

The Evolution of the LinkedIn Pay Wall

Yet, ever since the advent of LinkedIn, (which admittedly has its pros and cons in the modern era), that task has become as simple as typing a few keywords into a search bar and hitting enter. At least, it was much more convenient until LinkedIn started pay-walling the stuff you really need and want as a journalist–like contact information and free messaging with people you’re not connected with. 

During my tenure at CNN, LinkedIn introduced a system tailored for journalists. They verified us as professionals and granted free access to the previously restricted features. This access led to numerous exclusive stories, as our team could spot key company movements or executive changes. LinkedIn became an indispensable tool for trend stories and leads and a must-have for every journalist.

How to Get Free Access to LinkedIn Premium as a Freelance or Full-Time Journalist

When I transitioned to freelancing a decade ago, I feared losing this invaluable access and facing steep subscription fees, which now go into the $30 and up per month range. However, my former colleagues, now leading LinkedIn’s editorial side, recognized the significance of freelancers. They ensured our continued access to the LinkedIn for Journalists Program with an annual renewal process.

If you’re wondering what the Premium tier of access gets you versus what the free model gets you, check out the table below, courtesy of LinkedIn. By far, the most valuable services are the free InMail credits and the ability to get more details about someone you’re not connected with directly. 

I’ve been a part of the LIJP for the last ten years, and I cannot say enough good things about it. Sure, I’ve accidentally let it lapse, but it’s always been easy to re-up when the application period opens each quarter. It’s worth the five minutes of work you have to do and the (now) three-month wait to find out if you’ve been accepted. When you get accepted into the program, you get a premium code that unlocks your access. 

Applications are Open Through October 31, 2023

Applications are now open, and it’s well worth putting together five links to current stories (dated within the last six months)  and a few words about yourself to get access to one of the most valuable databases of professional contacts in the world. You can learn more about the application process here and fill out the form, here. Applications close in October, so make sure you don’t miss the window.