Gain prestige by becoming a media expert

Is your company overlooking one of its best opportunities to bring the kind of attention that makes customers sit up and take notice? And at no cost?

Your business is unique, and you have specialized knowledge that others are interested in knowing – whether you’re in retail, manufacturing, professional services, building construction or another field.

Coincidentally, business editors across the country are constantly looking for experts in various fields of business to quote in their business articles, interview on their news programs and write for their trade magazines.

business section

Anyone can buy an ad, but being selected by the media as an expert tells your customers and the general public that your company is deserving of special attention. Not only is being quoted in the business press free, it gives you and your firm a form of credibility and stature that money cannot buy.

Once you become known to financial writers, you may find yourself called on time after time to comment on the business happenings in your field. Or you may even be asked to write your own column for the public.

“When we do a retail story,” says one business editor, “there is one store manager we always call. She is incredibly accessible, she’s very smart, and she’s very honest and forthright. She gets the most ink because we’re able to get the most information from her. And we know we can trust her.”

So how do you go about getting the attention of business editors? There are many ways.

1. Read the business section of the newspaper. Watch the financial show you’re interested in appearing on. Take note of the kinds of stories they run, who the reporters are and how your expertise might fit in.

2. Hold seminars on subjects of high public interest, and send invitations to the press. Send out a press release announcing the seminar.

3. If you have a speaking engagement on a topic of high public interest, send an invitation to the media or follow up by sending a copy of the presentation with a personal note.

4. Begin attending events where the press is sometimes present, such as Chamber of Commerce meetings. Don’t be shy about approaching financial reporters, introducing yourself and telling them about your business.

5. If it’s in your comfort zone, call the newspaper, magazine or television station and introduce yourself to the business editor or the financial writer in your area. Tell them a little about your company and your expertise. If you have a story idea, suggest it.

6. Write a blog on your company’s website. Most reporters surf the net looking for article ideas. Consider emailing a blog that has public interest to a financial writer.

7. Write articles for your company’s customer print or electronic newsletter or and put the media on your mailing list. If they see an article that interests them, they very well may follow up with a phone call.

8. The media are always looking for a local angle to a national business story. If you have an idea, don’t hesitate to email or call a business reporter. Another opportunity is finding a business angle to a breaking news story.

9. If your company’s competitors are regularly interviewed but you are not, you may want to contact the business editor. Business editors want to play fair and may not know about your company. They want to find new experts to interview.

10. If you like to write and feel certain you could come up with ideas for repeated articles, volunteer to write a column. A trade publication in your area of expertise might jump at the chance to have a column in your field of expertise.

As in any endeavor, there’s a fine line between creating opportunities and pushing too hard. If you inundate a financial publication with phone calls or send too many press releases containing unimportant or manufactured news, you’ll quickly lose credibility.

Business writers are looking for people whose expertise they can trust and who are accessible when needed. If you’re serious about becoming a financial expert for the media, make phone calls from them a priority. Let other employees know that calls from the media should be put through immediately, and always return calls as soon as possible.

Be open and friendly when you are interviewed, but also be careful. From the time you say hello until the time you say goodbye, anything you say could appear in print. Your clothing, the way you decorate your office, an interruption during the interview – any of these could appear in the article.

It’s rare for a newspaper to allow you to review an article before it appears, though some magazines do. So don’t speak too quickly and repeat information to be sure that the reporter has it correctly.

Some journalists might ask for an email interview, which can assure accuracy and give you more time to craft your answers. Just be sure to write the way you talk so quotes don’t sound stilted. And proofread carefully before you send.

The opportunity for you and your company to become more visible in the community is definitely there. If you think it’s for you, learn as much as you can about the business media in your market, decide what approach to take, and then make the leap.