We’ve all been there. You turn on the TV or open the morning paper only to see a story which is centred around your business sector splashed everywhere. You knew this story was going to hit the headlines months ago – why aren’t you being interviewed along with the other experts? Here are our top tips for becoming an effective media spokesperson:
Becoming a thought leader takes commitment. If a reporter or researcher is looking for insight on GP shortages in rural Essex, for example, the obvious place to begin their search is online. Make a habit of sharing snippets of your expertise and opinions on the news across social media, your own blog and third-party platforms to increase your visibility. We’ve had clients appear on Sky News after TV researchers stumbled across opinionated blog posts. Lay the foundations and the opportunities may just come to you.
Know your subject area inside out and make sure you have something worth saying. It can be surprising how many clients don’t release the value of the insight they’re sitting on until it’s pointed out. If you’ve got a specialist subject that you’d smash a Mastermind final with, even if it’s as niche as contractor tax legislation in Ethiopia, make it known.
While you wouldn’t want to drop a bombshell, holding an opinion which encourages audiences to question widely held perceptions is like honey to a bee in media circles. As long as you can back up what you’re saying, and your views aren’t offensive or libellous, then don’t be afraid to put your head above the parapet.
Researchers, producers and journalists all work to tight deadlines. You could be the best interviewee in the world, but if you’re not available for interview until a week on Wednesday they’ll quickly move onto the next person on the list. Success as a media spokesperson relies on being flexible and reactive to what’s going on in the news so seize the moment. If a story begins to break, and it’s your area of expertise, pick up the phone to the paper, newsroom or radio station. You may not be successful in making it to interview, but being first off the block will certainly improve your chances.
You’re not trying to build a career as a columnist or a radio personality. As such, any insight you provide via the media should keep your wider business objectives front and centre.
You won’t be paid for your screen début. If you’re interviewed for a print publication, you won’t be offered copy approval. You may be bumped if a schedule changes, there’s breaking news or the producer or journalist gets a better offer. Don’t take it personally. If a spokesperson is a nightmare to deal with they’re unlikely to be approached again, regardless of the quality of insight they provide.
Using the media to reinforce your brand is arguably the gold standard in promoting your product or service offering. If you really know your stuff, play your cards right by being visible, available and a pleasure to deal with, and you’ll soon find yourself becoming a ‘go to’ effective media spokesperson in your field.
For more advice on how to be an effective media spokesperson and working with the media, get in touch with BlueSky PR.
Author: Carly Smith