Just this week I was reminded of a very common question which I get asked frequently, usually during my media training sessions where the client is part of a unique professional organization.
“How do I get the news media to use me as their “go to” expert? “
This client goal is often a big driver in their decision to hire me as their media trainer and consultant in the first place but it’s never an easy or simple question to answer. The reality is, there are many factors which go into the media’s decision-making process when it comes to selecting their “go to” experts on various topics and we’ve seen lots of these experts over this past pandemic year.
Dr. David Agus became a “go to” media expert during the pandemic for both local and national news, appearing regularly on CBS This Morning and the Howard Stern Show. Agus became so popular and well received that he even launched his own content delivery platform via text message for viewers craving more information regarding COVID-19. And pretty much all of network news and local news have their own “go to” OVID experts as we continue to navigate the pandemic. But it’s not just the medical field. News organizations usually have a list of experts they hit up for various topics including the military/war, legal, politics, civil rights, and many more topics which land in news cycles year after year.
So how do you position yourself to be a potential media expert? Let’s start with #1 and #2 below:
It goes without saying that you need more than an active Twitter account to be considered an “expert”. This blog assumes you have an impressive resume in your field of expertise AND have had media exposure of some kind. The news organization is going to want to see examples of previous media interviews.
2. Media Training
(Full Disclosure-I offer comprehensive media training so this is VERY self-serving)
But even if you don’t use me, get media trained! I cannot stress this enough. Investing in media training and messaging coaching will give you the context you need to be successful on-camera.
3. Can You Connect with Viewers on their Level?
Can you communicate in a way everyday people can understand? Are you able to avoid jargon and connect with people on a human level? Can you use non-technical language and use anecdotes to explain technical processes? Do you bring energy and animation to your interviews? A friendly face? Can you smile? Do you know how to speak in soundbites? These abilities are typically what separates the wanna-be experts from those who get booked.
Sounds silly right but it’s a big problem. A news organization often finds the perfect person but she is never available! News moves fast and to be a “go to” expert your schedule needs to be flexible enough to accommodate their needs or the relationship is not going to work.
5. The Magic
This is the hardest to explain but a news producer or booker knows it when they see it. It’s that magic which makes an interviewee fun to watch and it comes in many forms-energy, sense of humor, wit, personality, over the top insight, the ability to “show and tell”, etc. If you have one or more of these traits, do not be afraid to show it!
Rich Dubek is a two-time Emmy award winning TV news reporter with more than twenty five years of news media experience at the local and network level. He is President of the Dubek Media Group, specializing in expert media training messaging, and on-air coaching, and full service video production. The Dubek Media Group is based in Tempe, Arizona.