April 25, 2017 - by Robert Carter
Of all the angles and perspectives, when pitching your experts, you need to figure out how yours stands out amongst the rest.
- How are you getting the perspectives of your subject matter experts out there?
- Have you figured out your 'bench strength' to know who can comment on what and how?
- Do you have a good way to get your people out there to the public?
Sadly, when asked these questions, most PR and Marketing professionals struggle to give you a straight answer with confidence on how they get their people to comment on certain storylines.
With a defeated tone, I often hear, “Well – we have our resident rock star, Professor Jones, who does most of our media interviews” often followed by, “but he’s not always the best person for the story.”
Although, most organizations have a list of subject matter experts, they are often over-reliant on the same ‘go-to’ people. Here’s why:
First, these people are tried and true. For media, it’s a big deal when contacting an expert for comment - especially if the interview will be conducted on camera. So, why risk the chance of speaking with someone new?
The second thing, it’s time consuming. It’s easy to find a previous expert pitch in an email and forward it on to someone new. However, gathering this content for each new person every time an individual is being pitched is very time consuming and difficult to manage. Especially, when this content is strewn across the web and you need to add links for videos on YouTube, books on Amazon, articles on ResearchGate, presentations on SlideShare etc.
Once you’ve found the right person for the story, and you’ve aggregated the necessary background content to send, you must tie the loose ends and make the person contextual and relevant.
Why is this person the best individual to comment on the story? What angle is this person going to provide? What sort of background qualifies this person to being the subject matter expert on the topic?
When dealing with an institution that has hundreds, potentially thousands, of subject matter experts (like most higher education institutions) it can be quite cumbersome to not have the ability to know “who’s who” beyond your "usual suspects".
Don’t worry, help is on the way
At ExpertFile, we’ve heard the stories about organizations missing out on opportunities to get national or international media coverage because of their small team. These understaffed teams don’t have enough bandwidth to continuously pitch their people and comment on storylines. Their websites don’t paint a full picture of their experts’ abilities and knowledge.
So, we got together with these PR, Marketing and Comms people, and looked to develop a solution.
Then we created “Spotlight” - putting all of the necessary tools into the hands of PR, Marketing and Communications teams.
Spotlight allows you to contextualize the relevance of your expert with a the story. Write your expert pitch to explain why that person is the best to comment on that topic, and the angle they’d be able to provide.
Combine that with rich media profiles created by the ExpertFile team, you now have a central home for all of your experts’ content, and it provides a more engaging representation. So, when the media are vetting, they can now watch a video of that individual speaking in front of a camera, see their latest Media Appearances to know they have experience talking to reporters, and a Contact button for the quickest way to reach that individual, while simultaneously routing to any other internal stakeholders.
This last part is important to consider as every story has many angles. Take the recent United Airlines debacle, where a passenger was viciously pulled out of his seat due to the plane being overbooked. Aside from the traumatic events from the video that surfaced of the incident, after the dust settled media are left scrambling to find out more on the protocol for overbooked flights, the global impact (there was a big uproar in China due to initial reporting that he was of Chinese descent), and the economic impact on the company. Which means, you don’t need to limit yourself to an aviation expert in order to comment on an aviation story. Every story has multiple angles - this lets you offer up a unique perspective, pitch a concept others are not covering and insert your expert into an already crowded narrative.
Spotlight helps you grow those invisible experts into great sources, and it helps you efficiently pitch when you have resource constraints.
Spotlights in Action
Since the launch of the ExpertFile News Digest service, we’ve seen some significant results for our customers.
We've only been with ExpertFile a short time. We've been using Spotlights from the News Digest and have noticed a lot more attention from media. They're easy to request - and the turnaround is fast. We recently were asked to comment on the Supreme Court nominee and booked a radio show thanks to a Spotlight. It’s been a great way to get additional exposure for Augusta University.
Senior Digital Media Coordinator - Augusta University
With Spotlights we are seeing immediate pick-up of the stories we want to be part of. It’s letting us tell the Cambrian College story to a wide audience. As well, we’re noticing one Spotlight generates multiple media contacts. Once one outlet sees or reads our expert weighing in on a trending topic - the others follow. It’s an earned media coup.
Associate Vice President, College Advancement - Cambrian College
Once I integrated my Spotlights onto the Emory University business school website, it was so simple for me to have the ExpertFile Newsroom team whip up a pitch and publish it. Especially with limited resource on my team, it’s been a huge help to get my people out there in a more efficient manner.
Senior Communications Manager, Emory University - Goizueta School of Business
Want to see an example of how to pitch your expert? Send your storyline to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will have our Newsroom team send you a draft Spotlight ASAP.
Is there anything that I missed? I’d love to hear what’s worked for you to get your people speaking with the media.
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