.....are the magic words you want to hear at the end of a media interview. It means it’s over, wrapped, in the can. Hopefully it’s gone well, you’ve communicated the messages you wanted to get across, you’ve answered all the questions coherently and intelligently and not been tripped up by any unexpected topics or particularly probing questioning. Maybe they’ll even ask you back in the future. You’ve raised your profile and made people aware of your expertise and services.
But how did you get to this point? Why did you get the call to come and appear on air? Or, in fact, is it your competitor that always gets the call from the producer, asking them to come and act as an expert, to comment on the hot topic of the day – and get the resultant push to their profile.
Journalists and TV and radio producers are always looking for new experts and spokespeople for their programmes. They need people who know really ‘know their stuff’ and can put it across clearly and succinctly, making the complex simple and the potentially dull lively and engaging. They look for experts who are relaxed and confident on camera and who ‘give good interview’, never just trotting out the expected clichés but saying something memorable that sheds new light on a topic or story.
Once they have found someone good, however, they do tend to return to them time and time again because journalists and producers are busy people and their time is short so they don’t have the opportunity to search for a new spokesperson every time a subject returns to the news agenda.
So how do you put yourself on their radar and start getting those all-important interview invites? You need to be proactive. Here are some ideas to get you started:
- Try to meet the journalists. When you’re at conferences or other industry, seek out the journalists or TV crews and introduce yourself to them. Find out what they’re working on, what sorts of stories they like and have a think about how you may be able to help them. Note- - this is about them, not you. Email them when you’re back at your desk to remind them who you are and what your areas of expertise are. A TV or radio producer is much more likely to use someone they’ve met and who they know is personable and articulate.
- Let them know that you have an opinion and you’re not scared to share it. When you see a story hit the headlines that is relevant to you and your sector, you need to move fast. Issue a short press release the day the story breaks (ideally before mid-morning) outlining who you are, what you think about the issue and that you are available for interview on the topic. Make sure what you want to say stands out – don’t just go for the obvious ‘I agree’ or ‘I disagree’ but tell them why you think that and (most importantly) what you’d like to see done to change the current situation. For instance ‘I welcome the governments proposals’ wont’ get you very far. ‘I welcome the governments proposals but they don’t go nearly far enough and should be expanded to take in X, Y and Z’ will get you a lot further.
- Identify the journalists and media outlets you’d like to engage with and find them on social media, especially on Twitter. Almost all journalists and many TV and radio programmes have Twitter accounts where they will often tweet about what they’re working on, the types of experts they’re looking for and previewing what’s coming up. Even if they’re not looking for someone with your exact expertise, be helpful and make suggestions if you know a colleague or friend who could help. Engage with them by answering questions and making suggestions and they’ll start to get a feel for who you are – and be much more open to you suggesting yourself as a potential interviewee when the time comes. Also on Twitter, following the hashtag #journorequest allows you to see the requests for help from hundreds of journalists in dozens of different sectors, possibly opening up an opportunity you hadn’t even thought of.
- Express your views, even if you’re not appearing in the media (yet). If you’ve got something to say, say it through other channels such as a blog on your website (also useful for boosting your website up Google through search engine optimisation), through an email newsletter or through articles in trade magazines, especially online ones. Also make use of social media to get your views out there. Tweet about what you think and link to your blog posts and those of other people with whom you either agree or disagree. Any journalists following you will see this material and realise you’re someone with something to say plus it means that when member of the media is looking for someone with your expertise, you’re far more likely to appear in any online search.
Ideally you’ll be doing a combination of all or some of the above. The key is to make yourself visible and interesting to any researcher or producer looking for on-air experts. TV and Radio don’t do dull – they’re looking for people with passion, with opinion and with personality.
When that call does come, will you be ready? An appearance on national media can make a business virtually overnight, with huge traffic to websites, calls and web searches on the topic. How much longer are you willing to sit back and watch that go to a competitor?
Author profile: Steve Bustin
Medical Media Training was founded by journalist and PR expert Steve Bustin. Steve also runs PR consultancy Vada Media, working with clients to give them media exposure and to improve public perception of their business.
Steve started his career as a broadcast journalist for BBC News, working across national radio and TV programmes before going freelance. He still writes for national magazines and newspapers alongside his training and consultancy work.
Vada Media and Medical Media Training have worked with clients including Breast Reconstruction Awareness Week, Vascular Awareness Week, The Cadogan Clinic, Senova Dental Studios, Privatehealthcare.co.uk, treatmentabroad.com and The London Vascular Clinic.