June 02, 2015 - by Peter Evans
Last week we shared the first five major rules of Expert Marketing that are currently being used by Duke University to double their media hits (READ PART I). We also developed some strategies and best practices for higher education institutions to better market their experts. In this blog post, we are going to share our team’s final insights into how to better leverage your experts.
Rule #6: Create Once, Publish Everywhere
At one time we just had to focus on creating a news site. That’s now expanded to a multi- screen environment that requires we thread content into sites that are being accessed from desktops, mobile devices and even digital signage that is often scattered throughout the campus. Sit down with your digital team and map out how to distribute media across multiple channels such as social networks, news-feeds, homepages, faculty sites, as well as faculty profiles in your expert center or speakers bureau. Many schools still don’t have the “responsive” capability to push their news content out to mobile users.
Insiders Tip: Duke applies a “create once publish everywhere” model to ensure that time-crunched journalists can easily connect with their expert commentary, whether they access the website’s desktop or mobile versions, or through a wide range of social channels.
Rule #7: Get Your Expert Quotes Ready for the Real-Time News Cycle
Organizing a system with your faculty to publish pre-approved expert quotes on your website can pay huge dividends, as news outlets have fewer reporters covering more territory. Many of our clients tell us they are seeing less experienced reporters who have much less time to research and interact with media departments. Having pre-approved quotes ready to go makes it much simpler for media, making you much more attractive to them. This pre-planning can minimize the strain on faculty experts during class hours. An added bonus is that it also minimizes misquotes.
Insiders Tip: Duke University aims to provide daily quotes on its website by midday as part of its “news tips” section. While these quotes generally take less than one hour to produce, they have proven most effective. Almost all of their news tips have been used by the media since they started producing them in June 2014.
Rule #8: Promote Your Core Areas of Expertise First
With so much going on throughout the campus there are a lot of opportunities to promote a diverse range of topics to the media. However, it’s really important to identify the core topics where you have expert commentary in demand. The best media relations people have established their school as go-to sources for select topics. You should also stake your claim. What groundbreaking research can you find on the campus that relates to key news events? Think about what reporters need to communicate to their audiences. Do you have faculty who are credible, approachable and engaging on these topics? Invest the time with your team to develop a master topics list and tune this list regularly based on upcoming faculty contributions and news cycle developments.
Insiders Tip: Duke University identified a number of key factors that contribute to the media take-up rate such as the degree of media interest in a story; the relative supply of experts available to media and timing considerations. While it’s impossible to control all these variables, They learned, based on trial and error, that concentrating on core topics where they have an academic focus such as politics, law and the environment generated more coverage.
Rule #9: Focus your Editorial Calendar on Key Event Anniversaries
It is important to get the mix right when looking for media opportunities. While it will always be to your advantage to leverage breaking news if you can mobilize your faculty experts, there is also a predefined editorial flow to the news across a calendar of special and recurring events. It’s crucial that you get some of these major opportunities on the calendar and develop a campaign to enlist faculty experts. For example, Black History Month and the Super Bowl are both annual recurring events happening in February. It’s good to map these along with other special events that are periodically staged or non- recurring such as a G8 Summit or the upcoming papal visit to the US. If you can mobilize your experts to provide value for media who need to start researching these events well in advance you increase your chances of coverage.
Insiders Tip: The Duke University media relations team actively monitors upcoming anniversaries and other timely events that reporters are likely to write about. Events that have the potential to generate stories that Duke can leverage with their experts are reviewed by the communications team in twice weekly scrum meetings.
Rule #10: Leverage Tools such as Twitter to Grow your Media Contacts
Much of the success you will have with faculty experts hinges on your ability to take your message to the market. So it’s important to focus on grooming and growing your media contacts. Besides buying access to media lists from vendors such as Cision, PR Newswire, Marketwired and Meltwater; don’t forget about Twitter. It provides a huge opportunity to build a list of influencers and key opinion leaders. Using a simple topic and hashtag searches on Twitter, you can begin to map various clusters of people who are following specific news beats that may be relevant to your institution. Remember that media outlets tend to follow other media outlets for story angles and media sources. Having a well organized list of people that have interacted with you in the past is a large part of distributing your news faster to a larger audience. It’s important to do Twitter searches to research specific reporters you want to pitch to see where their interests lie.
Insiders Tip: Duke University refines its media lists continually using Twitter. It looks at the social graph of reporters who make use its online news tips to identify other journalists to add to their database.