One of the most powerful media relations strategies I know is to become the quotable expert that reporters turn to when they need a comment, perspective or analysis on something going on in your industry or on a particular topic. One campaign I launched and helped run at RLF Communications harnessed this strategy to put a company spokesperson on national television and in national print publications. It resulted in thousands of new business leads for the company.
This strategy makes some people nervous – they don’t want to put themselves out there or worry they’ll be say something that will make them look stupid in front of their peers. But with preparation, and by being careful with the reporter, you can mostly avoid these risks.
The pay off can be huge: lots of media coverage, a positive relationship with reporters, and a position as an expert in your field that can translate into more effective sales and marketing efforts, and more credibility with any audience.
Here are eight actions you can take to establish yourself, your organization or your company’s leaders as experts in a particular topic or industry.
1. Be the quotable expert. Let reporters who cover your company or your industry know that you (or your CEO or another spokesperson) is an expert who is willing and able to comment on industry trends, stories in the news related to the industry and the like. Then return media calls in a timely way to help reporters meet their deadlines.
2. Create an experts guide full of company executives who are prepared to speak on a variety of topics. For many companies and organizations there will be a variety of executives or key employees with knowledge about different topics (imagine a physician’s practice with multiple specialties or a tech company with both B2B and B2C divisions). Create an expert’s guide that outlines who these experts are, what their qualifications are and what topics they can speak on. Provide one point of contact to help journalists quickly reach the experts they need on deadline. Many organizations have transitioned to online-only experts guides in recent years, but I still think there’s value in printing something that will be memorable when it hits desks in a newsroom.
3. Give reporters story ideas, even if they don’t benefit you directly. Chances are, as someone who’s actually in your industry, you’re closer to the trends and issues your industry is facing. Be the first to tell reporters covering your industry about these, and you’ll likely be among the first sources quoted.
4. Join publication advisory boards. Many trade publications have editorial boards or advisory boards that include industry experts. Reach out to the editor or publisher, ask how people get on those boards and explain your interest. Editorial board or advisory board members are frequently tapped as expert sources for stories. These positions can also boost credibility on your résumé, bio and website.
5. Blog about your industry or field. Blog about industry trends, ideas and statistics; provide your perspective; offer useful tips and advice. And then, once you have a couple dozen posts up and you’ve established a comfortable rhythm, email reporters and invite them to subscribe to the blog.
6. Create white papers, studies or issue briefings and send those to reporters. One or two interesting conclusions, or some key industry facts and statistics, is all it takes to get interest from reporters covering a particular beat, and get you or your company cited as the source.
7. Help educate reporters. You can put together a half day or day-long program, pull together speakers (both from your company and allied businesses), and offer several hours of educational content to help reporters better understand the topics they are covering. There is a good chance that at the end of the day reporters will walk away with story ideas, quotes from you and your business card. You could even do this virtually, and with a smaller time commitment, via a free webinar or conference call. If you’re going to aim for a lengthier program (several hours) it’s probably worth trying to partner with a professional journalism organization or ensuring you’ve got enough credibility and influence to engage busy reporters for that length of time. If you’ve never done this before, start with a short one-hour webinar or teleconference over lunch.
8. Speak at an industry events. Not only can you pitch that to media that cover your industry, some events will attract media attention so your speech can land in the headlines. You can sprinkle your speech or presentation with some nuggets — statistics your organization has collected, for example — to make your comments even more newsworthy.
Have questions about how to establish yourself as an expert? Want to add another tip? Please leave a comment below. I read every single comment.
Coming next: Create your own media. Sign up for my email list to make sure you don’t miss any of the posts in this seven-part series.