I recently provided media training to a group of international lawyers and we covered many of the basic Media 101 stuff I always cover with a new group. But as we moved through the process, one of the lawyers raised her hand and said, “this is all fine and good, but what we really need to know is how we become the media “go to” guys and gals for our area of expertise? Now that’s a great question.
You know who we are talking about. You see these people on TV all the time. They have no direct connection to a given story but are called upon by the media to provide context and their expert opinions on stories making news. News folks call them “expert sources”, and while most are not paid, the publicity and positive PR generated by these exposures can be extremely beneficial. When booking one of these folks in the newsroom, you will often hear the words “who would be a good bite for this?” That’s news vernacular for, in simple terms, who can we put on TV who will be good?
So what makes a “good” expert news source? Here are my top three ingredients, in order of importance:
1. Messaging-Can you deliver an effective message in easy to understand terms and most importantly, in a condensed fashion. Television demands sources who can deliver complete thoughts in around seven to eight seconds. Can you also deliver that condensed message in a way in which everyone can understand?
2. Your look-No, this doesn’t mean you have to look like a super model, although that would be a big plus! All this means is that you present well. You are dressed for TV, you look professional and credible, you are engaging and likeable. If you happen to be good looking, that’s a bonus.
3.Knowledge-Obviously you need to know what you are talking about. But this is last on my list because you wouldn’t be considered at all unless you had the experience and training to begin with.
While some people are born with amazing communication skills, most require training and on-camera reps to get there. Even lawyers.