Using media to build your authority is a win-win.
They get to use your expertise to build out their stories—which attracts new readers/listeners/watchers—and you get exposure to a new audience base.
The beauty is that you literally can start today—right now in fact— by adopting a media mindset and a handful of simple practices.
Make a (short) target list. Choose just a few strategic outlets to focus your energies: about three to five is an excellent starting point.
The initial criteria for selection? You can see a direct line of sight from their audience to your ideal clients and buyers.
If you’ve never done much media, start with smaller platforms while you build up your skill set. Bonus: they’ll typically be hungry for content and open to building a relationship with you.
Once you’ve selected your outlets, track down who is reporting on your subject matter. Read at least a few pieces they’ve written to get inside their head.
What seems to attract them to a story? Are they writing on your topic regularly? Do they express a point of view you can synch with or play devil’s advocate to?
Add them to your contact database so you can always remind yourself who they are and what they cover.
Follow your journalists. Hunt down what makes them tick: follow their work, note their interests, how they interact, what they share. All will give you clues to form an organic connection with them over time.
And if you’re not on Twitter yet, go get yourself set up right now—it’s the perfect platform for locating the top, emerging and just-getting-started journalists in pretty much any field.
It’s a virtual media playground where they’re openly curating content, engaging with followers and looking for story ideas. Pro tip: use Twitter’s list function so you can monitor what’s on their radar with just a click.
Stay consistently strategic. Avoid the temptation of going for the flashy, sexy names if they aren’t speaking directly to your target. Sure it feels great to be part of their zeitgeist, but know the difference between an ego feel-good and a site that’s aligned with your audience.
Being strategic also means defining a clear point of view and sticking to it. If the angle of a proposed story doesn’t jibe with your worldview, be the contrarian—which makes for pithy sound bites and a greater likelihood that you’ll be quoted.
If the subject you’re being asked about is off-topic for your expertise, don’t be afraid to say no thank you, or even refer them. You want to build your authority more like a laser than a shotgun.
Think like a journalist. Put yourself in their shoes: what matters to them? How do they think? What do they need?
Traditional journalists—like say reporters for major outlets—are always on a tight deadline and usually have an editor or producer to please.
They don’t have time to track you down, wait three days for you to call back or ramble all over the topic when you do connect.
You get one chance to respond, so give them an immediate “yes” with your availability in the next 24 hours or a “sorry, not this time”.
Do your homework before taking the call—even if it’s just spending five minutes thinking about their question and how it aligns with your authority. It will keep you on-point and highly valuable as a source.
Make your authority sticky. Journalists get hundreds if not thousands of pitches every month. They don’t want to meet you or even talk to you unless it’s for a story and it’s obvious—typically from your website—you’ll be a good source.
But they do appreciate your helping them out—a (carefully crafted) story idea, a piece of research, perhaps a client introduction.
Keep your emails short and aligned with their hot buttons and they’ll reach out when they have an opportunity in your specialty. They value sources that are smart, quotable, responsive and easy to work with.
Just to be clear: media folk don’t care a whit about building your authority. What they DO care about is producing their best possible story.
Which means your job is to focus on the sweet-spot intersection between your expertise and their story.