Become the go-to expert in your community

My husband rolled over with his brow furrowed after checking  his voice mail. “The TV station wants me to cook today. Again.” I gave him the well known, “And the problem is?” look.

He had a million other things to do that day at our restaurant and while he could squeeze a television appearance in, he didn’t want his day rushed like that. I cocked my eyebrow at him.

“Alright, alright,” he said.

I hadn’t said a word, but he knows where I stand on this issue. Exposure in mass media does amazing things for any organization, non-profit or not. The big question is “How do I become the go-to expert for my industry?”

It turns out it isn’t as difficult as you may think. The most important thing is always be available, hence my facial expressions to my dear, sweet, husband. Most of the time, reporters are working on a deadline and if they can’t get a quick response from you, they move on down their list until they arrive at someone who can.

Here are three more suggestions for getting started.

  1. Know your stuff. This is vital for seeking out interesting angles in current events that impact your clients. Print and television news are competing with the immediacy of the internet. It is very easy for everyone to be saying the same thing about the same topics. If you can pitch a different angle that is still accessible to the majority of their audience, you are on to something.
  2. Know the media people. Cultivating a relationship with reporters and editors is much easier than you might imagine. Email addresses now accompany many bylines. If you see a story that you could have offered additional information or insight on, shoot a quick email about yourself and your organization to the reporter. If legislation is coming down the pike that will impact a significant number of people or a particular population that your organization serves, fire off an email to the editor with a heads up about it, along with your organization’s take.
  3. Know your key people. As tempting as it may be to automatically choose the executive director to serve as the expert, it is beneficial to also match the skill sets with the medium. If the board chair is well known in the community and has a penchant for speaking well in front of people, he or she may be the best face for your organization on television or radio. If the Executive Director is better at writing (or a wordsmith exists in the organization who can ghost write something for him or her), then use that person for community opinion pieces for the local paper.

If this is something you are interested in, consider the above suggestions your homework. I’ll touch base in a couple of weeks with more detailed suggestions.

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