How to Position Yourself to the Media as a Subject Matter Expert

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One of the things I like most about accounting is working with professionals who are subject matter experts – and that is something that is prevalent in just about every professional services arena.

Just like the medical profession has doctors who specialize in niche medicine, CPAs and accountants, similarly, do the same. I rarely meet anyone who works in tax that says they don’t drill down in some way or another to a specialty. If this isn’t the case, then most likely the tax preparer would work at one of the mass-market tax prep shops instead of with an accounting firm!

Subject matter experts are a dream to PR professionals because they are great for interviews, especially when a reporter contacts us to ask for a source/quotes for a story.

In a way, this posting is a follow-up to last week’s “3 No-Brainer Ways to Get Your Name in the News,” because one of the questions asked of my clients and colleagues is how to get the media’s attention – what can you do to make yourself “known” to them so they’ll contact you if they need a source/quotes for a story they are writing?

Tell the Media Who You Are – sounds very basic, and it is! All you have to do is simply send the contact at your local business journal or daily paper an email telling them who you are, who you’re with and what you do for your clients. To avoid coming off as boasting or haughty, you can write something like this:

“Hello (first name) – I know you cover accounting and finance for the (name of the publication), and wanted to write to let you know about my background in case you needed a source for an upcoming story.

I work with (name of firm or company) and (describe what you do). As a result, I help clients with (describe your specialty). Depending on the topic, I might be able to help you by either explaining something in more detail for you or answer any questions you have for your story.

Below is my contact information – let me know if I can help.

(Your first name goes here)

(Your email signature goes here)”

One note about email signatures - please use them! I can't tell you how many professionals I come across who don't have them. If you don't have one, a reporter will try to search for your contact info and if you cannot easily be found, he or she will give up and move to the next possible source.

It’s as simple as that. My advice is to try this and see what happens. What’s good about taking this laid-back approach versus steamrolling the reporter with something like, “I would make an ideal source for your story,” is that a reporter can see right through this as just another attempt to gain publicity.

Any questions? Let me know!

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