Media appetite growing for subject matter experts

A tried and true PR strategy for brands to gain earned media coverage involves the use of expert spokespeople, who can offer timely information in an entertaining manner without being overly promotional.

Reporters, influential bloggers and broadcast producers are far more likely to include a distinguished subject matter expert in their segment over a novice with a limited track record or a brand simply trying to push its own agenda.

Categories that featured the professional experts in recent days on U.S. television and radio included everything from weather and health to social media and pets. (See topic rank)

The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals earned coverage about backyard barbecue season. SPCA Cincinnati’s director of operations, Mike Retzlaff, warned about obvious pet dangers like charcoal, lighter fluid and matches, but also about seemingly benign food items toxic to dogs, like grapes.  SPCA gained credibility through Retzlaff’s sharing of statistics and safety tips on 32 segments, reaching an estimated audience of 442,000 viewers, with publicity value of nearly $30,000.

backyard bbq

Style expert Jackie Miranne was cited 20 times in fashion segments, including one mentioning L’Oreal Paris and another touting Chanel.

Social media expert Jason Mollica, owner of the PR and social firm JRM Comm, scored 212 airings during coverage about how disgraced Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling was trending in online conversations.

CMOs or PR executives seeking to increase their brands’ share of voice through the use of expert spokespeople have a number of avenues to consider as they set expectations and build their budgets.

Brand-exclusive experts

By hiring an experienced media professional, such as a former TV or print journalist, as an in-house expert, a brand is more likely to be successful delivering usable content in the format and time period required by news outlets.

Mark Hamrick is a former Associated Press broadcast anchor who works full-time as the Washington bureau chief for Bankrate.com.  He appears on dozens of broadcast segments, and many more print and online articles, every month for the financial content publisher and syndicater.

Trae Bodge, senior editor and media spokesperson for the fast-growing retail coupon marketplace RetailMeNot, says in her Twitter profile, “It’s my mission to make savvy, smart shopping cool!” Coverage including Bodge and the RetailMeNot brand routinely hits hundreds of segments during the holiday shopping season, but is steady even during slower shopping months.

For commercial banks, it’s common to use the “economist” moniker to describe expert spokespeople.  Stuart G. Hoffman of PNC Financial Services Group and Benjamin Tal of CIBC are economists who excel in scoring media coverage.  TD Bank Chief Economist Craig Alexander scored 45 media appearances in May and was well on his way to exceeding that in June, when he was quoted valuing Toronto’s trees at $7 billion.

Industry experts

While not full-time employees for a particular brand, industry experts are booked by news outlets because they have broad knowledge of a particular sector and often illustrate trends with specific products and services.

Lauren Fix is dubbed “The Car Coach” an automotive analyst by news outlets who routinely rely on her for automotive segments on topics ranging from car maintenance, industry trends, car reviews to safe driving.

Chuck “The Toy Boy” Santoro is one the country’s top toy experts. He’s well known for TV appearances prior to the holiday shopping season, during which he shares picks for the year’s hottest toys.

When booking an industry expert, a brand must take care to adhere to regulatory disclosure requirements published by the Federal Communications Commission for TV and the Federal Trade Commission for social media.

Academic experts

Professors, deans and university researchers are prized by news organizations for their depth of knowledge, though some are decidedly more camera-ready than others.

Many schools, such as Quinnipiac University, publish expert guides on their websites, allowing media to review faculty members’ specific areas of study and experience before arranging interviews.

Lender_School_of_Business_2005

Brands can indirectly benefit from academic experts who provide commentary to the media. An active media monitoring program can alert a brand to those experts most often quoted.  Once identified, the PR team can offer engagement ranging from the addition of the academic expert to an email list or social media community to attendance at news conferences, investor days or even on-on-one briefings with executives.

The right expert approach 

As marketing and PR functions meld together, many organizations are rethinking their content strategies to include more brand journalism.  The writers, video producers and others recruited as brand storytellers , in many cases, may be able to serve a dual role as expert spokesperson for traditional news outlets.

In the meantime, use of paid media experts and closer brand ties to influential academicians are two additional approaches to filling the increasing media appetite for experts.

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Which experts are sought the most on U.S. TV and radio

Time period: May 2014

Source: Critical Mention

weather expert

257

health expert

246

social media expert

209

security expert

196

beauty expert

160

money experts

141

legal expert

96

financial expert

94

traffic expert

84

medical expert

68

science expert

54

cooking expert

50

hurricane expert

48

tech expert

48

wine expert

45

energy expert

45

relationship expert

42

political expert

40

design expert

39

fashion expert

35

garden expert

33

ballistics expert

32

gardening expert

21

computer expert

20

marketing expert

20

travel expert

18

branding expert

18

pet expert

17

military expert

17

forensic expert

14

food expert

12

wildlife expert

12

education expert

12

tax expert

10

movie expert

9

public relations expert

9

PR expert

8

Middle East expert

4

water expert

3

marriage expert

3

 

 

 

 

 

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