Between 1961 and 2001, the use of experts in media increased 700 %. In this presentation for PR professionals, we explain why journalists started using more and more experts, how they pick experts, and how you can use that knowledge to become one of the go-to experts for journalists to call.
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- “How to become a media expert in 5 simple steps”
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- In this presentation, we will explain :
- In this presentation, we will explain : 1. Why journalists use experts.
- In this presentation, we will explain : 1. Why journalists use experts. 2. How they choose experts.
- In this presentation, we will explain : 1. Why journalists use experts. 2. How they choose experts. 3. How you can become an expert for the media.
- Let’s start with the why. For that, we rewind to 1960.
- Until the ‘60s, journalists choose sources based on their political standing. The politician decides what’s important. The newspaper journalist writes it.
- Most of the experts interviewed are ‘hard scientists’: biologists, doctors, physicists.
- The rise of television changes that.
- Because newspapers can’t compete with the speed of live television, newspaper reporters reinvent themselves.
- Because newspapers can’t compete with the speed of live television, newspaper reporters reinvent themselves. Instead of reporting what happens, they explain why things happen.
- Also, journalists become aware of the existence of “spin”. (Image: Ron Ziegler, Nixon’s press aide during Watergate.)
- So increasingly, journalists need experts, for two reasons:
- So increasingly, journalists need experts, for two reasons: 1. To voice the opinions that the journalist can’t voice
- So increasingly, journalists need experts, for two reasons: 1. To voice the opinions that the journalist can’t voice 2. To help the journalist understand current events (sparring)
- Between 1961 and 2001, the number of experts quoted in print journalism increased 700 percent. + 700 % 1961 2001
- So how do journalists pick these experts?
- Turns our there is research about that too.
- In 92 % of cases, it’s the journalist who chooses the expert.
- And this is how they find them: 50 % of the times, journalists call someone they know or have seen quoted elsewhere!
- And this is how they find them: Only 10 % of the time it’s someone they find while surfing the internet.
- It’s called the Matthew Effect
- It’s called the Matthew Effect “For to all those who have, more will be given, and they will have an abundance” (Matthew, 25:29)
- More numbers: in 35 % of the cases, journalists call experts that they never mention in their final story.
- This happens for 2 reasons: “there’s no room for more quotes” and “the expert says the same thing as all the others”. (It’s the polite way to say: they are boring!)
- What if… I don’t know what all that means for me?
- We think it means 5 things:
- Journalists seem to work mostly from memory (or speeddial, which is the same). So it’s important to stay on their radar. That means checking in with them regularly, by e- mail, Twitter, Facebook, Google+ or whatever channel they prefer. It can be as simple as favoriting a Tweet of theirs. Thing 1
- Likewise, it’s important to stay visible in media. The easiest way to do so is to be very active in trade press and/or local press. Often, journalists follow local and trade publications to stay up to date with new trends. The local and trade press is your best friend. Thing 2
- Start a blog. While 10 % online search isn’t much, it is a way to be recognised. Also, blogs are an excellent way to stay in touch with journalists. You can tweet them a link to your blog, asking their feedback or input. (Or you can quote them in your blogs). You might also send them your blog before publishing it – maybe they’re interested in running it as a guest contribution. Thing 3
- Be original and bring perspective. The research shows that your quotes will end up on the cutting floor if you don’t come up with something surprising to say. Prepare your media interventions. Try to think what other experts will add, and try to come up with a novel idea, a surprising reference or a strong metaphor for what’s happening. Thing 4
- Lastly, try to have an opinion. An expert is someone who knows his stuff, but who is also not afraid to call the game. Remember: journalists call experts to voice the opinions that they themselves can’t (because they need to stay objective). If you refuse to do this, they will stop calling you. Thing 5
- Source: http://www.finn.be/blogs/how-journalists- choose-experts-matthew-effect Author: @kris10vermoesen
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