“I want to be quoted as an expert in [insert outlet here].”
As remote PR professionals, we certainly hear that a lot. While it’s easy to retort, “well, ARE YOU an expert?” it’s important to remember that anyone who wants to be quoted thinks they are an expert and have valuable things to say to the audience(s) of their target publications. Oftentimes, however, they want to be quoted simply for the sake of talking about their company and selling more stuff. And that’s the wrong way to approach the problem.
Reporters and editors aren’t fools. They know a simple mention or a quote from a popular blog or publication can help companies get a lot of attention from customers and other media. That’s why they’re discerning about what types of articles they write and the sources they choose. They need to make sure that the topic is of interest to their audience because that means more page views, and of course, more page views mean more advertising dollars. Outlets are businesses, after all.
Unfortunately, becoming a trusted source does not happen overnight. This is not a three-month campaign. It sometimes isn’t even a six-month campaign. Becoming a trusted source happens over time, and many companies don’t have the patience to wait that long to get results.
Think, Act Like an Expert
For those companies that are in it for the long haul, here are 5 ways to become an expert source:
- Think like an expert. Know what type of topics you can cover inside and out. Write them down. Expound on them internally and get feedback (because things you might be interested in talking about might not be that interesting after all.) Ask your peers for feedback.
- Be prepared. Prepare talking points before something happens. For example, for insurance companies, there is always going to be the next big hurricane or storm coming. PR pros can work with their clients to prepare information ahead of time on the insurance impact a storm can have on the economy and so on. Pitching a reporter before something happens (bit not too early) can help you get a foot in the door. Likewise, celebrities are always going to face crises with their personal brands, whether it’s about labor laws, organic ingredients, and so on. Preparing statements for when the news breaks is another way to catch the attention of reporters.
- Do your homework. You likely don’t have the bandwidth to approach dozens of reporters with your expert opinion. Instead, pick a reasonable number – under 10, for example – and really get to know their coverage areas. Follow them on Twitter and if they post on LinkedIn, follow them there as well. Going in blind to what a reporter covers is an easy way to find your pitch in the recycling bin.
- Act like an expert. Alongside your current role, update your LinkedIn profile to promote yourself as an expert in the topic for which you want to be considered an expert. Start posting blogs to your profile that share these messages. Encourage people to follow you. If your company has a blog, ask if you can start posting topics there under your name that promote your expertise.
- Lead with your value. When you think about approaching companies as an expert, think about it the way you would about approaching a customer. What is the value you bring to this reporter? How can you help them better tell their story. What unique angle do you have that very few other people can give them?
Laying the Groundwork
Not hearing back from reporters as quickly as you like? Don’t give up, but don’t be a pest either. Reporters are busy. Make sure your subject line and opening few sentences get your point across. If it’s a fit, you might be contacted right away, or it might take months. Either way, you’ve laid the groundwork to pitch these reporters again when the timing is right—or they might contact you!