If you or your organization want to be called on by the media as an expert in your field, you need to properly prepare your public profile
- Step 1: Identify target opportunities & prepare talking points
- Step 2: Ensure your Google search results represent your credentials
- Step 3: Build relationships with media targets
- Step 4: Continually monitor, update and build your digital reputation
- Step 5: Be ready to pounce when the opportunity arises
You may have been there before: a news story breaks and you have the perfect expertise to speak to the situation. The next day, you flip on the news to see your top competitor interviewed on a top-rated news show or in a lead story on a website your audiences follow. It’s difficult to calculate the dollar value of that earned media appearance, but you know you missed a real opportunity. It leaves you asking: how did your competitor wind up in the spotlight? How did the network or reporter choose her? What do you need to do to be that chosen expert next time?
The answer to those questions is not as complicated as you’d expect. Your competitor was prepared. She recognized a situation like this could arise, and put herself in position to jump in and provide the needed expertise when it actually happened. The type of preparation you do depends, of course, on your industry and the aspects in which you’d like to present your particular insight. This situation is known to all professions: advance preparation for potential circumstances, good or bad, can make all the difference in your personal, or your company’s, reputation.
The first step is to identify those potential opportunities where you can best exemplify your company’s expertise. Ideally these are topics you can speak extensively about, citing specific examples of actual experience that viewers/listeners/readers can connect to the current event. Once these have been identified, you need to build your public bona fides. Have you spoken publicly about the subject matter? Have you published books and/or thought leadership pieces about it? Can you publicly cite case studies that speak to your past experience in the area?
Assuming you can provide this type of evidence, make sure it is well packaged and widely available online through a Google search. This is almost always the first step a reporter, influential blogger or a broadcast booker will take when considering a potential expert. This leads to several questions. Is your digital reputation in order? When you Google your company name, does the most relevant information appear? What about your name? Is there somebody else with a less-than-stellar background that might be confused with you? To a large extent, you can actually control your own online profile.
Maintaining your digital reputation is much more than a “one and done” effort. It takes persistence to ensure it’s kept up to date and not overtaken by irrelevant matters or listings that may be harmful. Some of the most recognizable “talking head” experts ensure that their digital profiles are virtually pristine. It includes much more than an attractive company home page. For example, SEO can be both your best friend and your worst enemy — if you’re not fully invested and actively managing your digital appearance.
But the time-honored tradition of building relationships with the influencers who decide whether you’re “worthy” of their airtime, an online mention or space in their column, remains a top priority. If you know your target audience, it’s much easier to pinpoint the media and news websites that speak to them.
Remember, these experts don’t get published or make it on the air accidentally. And it’s just as important to recognize the more you or your firm is quoted or mentioned as an expert in your field, the more the media will reach out to you. You must ensure your Google results give the right impression and help you stand out as the appropriate authority for your area of expertise. Commonly referenced topic experts have put in the work and positioned themselves to be called upon when the time is right. If you, or others at your organization, want to be one of those well-known experts, have you done your due diligence?
Eric Schultz is the Director of Strategic Communications for Lumentus. He is a messaging expert who designs and executes communications strategies for clients across various industries. With more than a decade of experience in the broadcast and digital news industry, he leans on that first hand knowledge to inform his counsel. Eric has produced influential live television shows at CNBC, MSNBC, Bloomberg, CNN and Fox 5 New York.
For more information, contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.