By Nance Ackerman – WIFT-AT Communications Chair
As we all know the same voices keep cropping up in the news – online, on radio and television – spreading their knowledge and pushing their organization’s brand out over the airwaves. It’s the not-so-secret weapon in the non-profit’s marketing arsenal, as well as a great personal marketing tool for your own individual brand.
Having been a journalist for the last 30 years, one of the things I learned was that we love it when someone else makes our job easier. So if there is a story about women actors in film complaining that tasteful sex scenes were deleted for sexist reasons, we love it when an ‘expert’ on, say, sexuality in film gives us a call and a great interview. After doing one documentary film on drug addiction in Cape Breton, I was asked to sit on numerous panels and government think tanks regarding the issue. The research associated with filmmaking is more than any daily journalist can possibly do, and often more hands-on and personal story driven than the dry academic interview.
When spreading our stories and our brand, WIFT-AT has to remember that the best communications plan includes encouraging the ‘messenger’ to choose our message first – because it’s the easiest and the most interesting message. Reporters are now, more than ever, working around the clock trying to keep up with the online demands of covering stories. Making their job easier and faster will get our message out there nine times out of ten.
But in order to get our message out, we need to find that expert in ourselves. And nurture that part of our own brand.
According to Dan Forbush, founder of ProfNet, a PR Newswire service that puts journalists in touch with experts and sources for breaking stories, “there are two essential approaches to media placement.
One is to persuade reporters that your organization has news worth reporting – this approach is deliberate and release driven. The other is to persuade reporters that there are individuals within your organization who – because of their industry perspective or some form of expertise – are worth interviewing. This approach is opportunistic and pitch driven.”
So over the next few weeks, shine a better and brighter light on what you already have. Fill in some gaps along the way and you can position yourself and your brand as one of the leaders in your field.
1. Own It
You might say, “but I’m no expert.” Sometimes, this is true. Often, it’s not. Even after spending years in a field and producing consistent results, people are wary of standing up and asserting themselves as true experts. It can be scary; the pressure to deliver certainly increases when you claim expert status. But if you’re ready, if you can help your audience get the results they’re after, it’s time to own your expert standing and shout it to the world.
2. Define Your Expertise
Be bold and clear. Would you rather work with the woman who says, “Well, I guess I help people, um, get more visitors and stuff like that,” or the one who says, “I am an online traffic expert”?
3. Create an Expert Tagline
Useful with videos, articles, interviews, and live talks, an expert intro is a powerful tool for establishing your authority with new audiences as well as ingraining your expert status in the minds of reporters and social media audiences. We all know taglines; let’s write one for ourselves.
4. Share Your Credibility Story
Your expert story is critical. It connects you to your audience, establishes authority, inspires hope, and motivates action. How do you accomplish all that with a single story? Start by sharing your struggle to succeed, allowing people to relate to you. Then describe your sources of deep knowledge to demonstrate why you know more than the average tinkerer (certifications, degrees, years of experience, firsthand trial-and-error, etc.). Finally, share your personal stories of success as well as the stories of your successful clients and customers.
Check out HARO, which stands for Help a Reporter Out. After signing up as an expert, for free, you’ll receive daily emails from reporters looking for particular authorities. When there’s a match, you simply reply by email.
Please email Jenna at email@example.com with your particular expertise. Here are some ideas in our field:
- women’s rights in film
- children’s issues in film and media
- social documentary issues i.e. poverty, women’s rights, food security, environment, prostitution
- academic qualifications – advanced degree in any story that can be told in film i.e. history of women in film, women’s studies and other degrees
- union or labour issues with regards to women in the communications, media, journalism, film and television industries
- or if you had to spend a particularly long time researching a particular topic for a film (i.e. became an expert swordswoman for a role in an historical dramatic film, or interviewed every last person who spoke the Abanaki language in Quebec..etc.)