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April 2018

Become an expert source for reporters: Get on the air and into print

A few years ago, communications strategist Casey Whittington heard on the news that oil prices were tanking. Knowing his Texas client had insight on the implications, Whittington called every relevant media outlet in the state. And it wasn’t long before he was able to connect his client to an interested reporter. The resulting article was later picked up by more than 50 publications through the Associated Press newswire. 

Why should you care?  According to Whittington, leveraging your expertise in such a way can build your credibility and give you the kind of spotlight that brings in new business – as media exposure “allows a larger reach than word-of-mouth and client referrals combined.”

How can you, too, get on the air and into print? In his recently published GPSolo eReport article, “Leveraging Expertise Areas for Media Coverage,” Whittington takes the mystery out of becoming a media expert with these simple and straightforward tips:

  • Take inventory of what you have. Develop a list of potential talking heads at your firm, along with their one or two expert areas.

  • Identify relevant reporters. Keep a list of reporters or news outlets that have covered the topics corresponding to the internal list.  Some may simply be “beat reporters” for a certain section of the news, such as real estate or politics.

  • Understand those reporters. Get to know those reporters through their stories and social media. “Follow them on Twitter, and learn what kind of stories they cover,” advises Whittington, noting that reporters who often cover “gotcha” stories should be avoided, as their kind of coverage may not be what you want.

  • Pay attention to the news. Follow the news every day, or at least once a week, advises Whittington, to identify when one of the areas of expertise within your firm comes up in the news cycle.

  • Contact the reporter on that issue. “Gently reach out to the reporter via email or Twitter, and offer to provide background or other information that could be helpful,” says Whittington.  And, don’t wait too long. In today’s 24/7 news environment, what’s hot now may not be relevant at all tomorrow.

And, when you contact a reporter, make sure you have the time to respond. A response may come immediately. “So, have your speaking points laid out and carve off 10-15 minutes before you hit ‘send’ with that offer to help.

“We place far more trust and value on news and news outlets than we do on advertising and marketing,” says Whittington. “By injecting your areas of expertise into breaking news stories, you can capture that same trust and value from the public.”

GPSolo eReport is a publication of the ABA Solo, Small Firm and General Practice Division.

The material in all ABA publications is copyrighted and may be reprinted by permission only. Request reprint permission here.
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