Credibility is key: placing the expert in the media

An expert for the media is not only a specialist in a specific field. He or she is also a person who is able to convey his or her knowledge in a way that is comprehensible to the audience. What does the process of building an expert's image in the media look like and what should we pay attention to in the cooperation between PR specialist and journalist in this aspect?

Let's start with who an expert is. It is a person who specialises in a particular subject, both in practice and theory. Sometimes he or she is also an authority in a given field, such as Professor Bralczyk in the field of Polish language. In recent years, however, we have also been dealing with "self-proclaimed" experts who, instead of knowledge and experience, mainly have a desire to speak in the media. It is therefore extremely important to thoroughly verify the specialist, first of all by the PR specialist who cooperates with him or her, but also by the journalist interested in the cooperation. In this way, the final recipient of the message (viewer, reader, listener) will receive a valuable and credible message, which will positively influence their perception of both the medium and the expert himself.

Regardless of whether the expert's media placement is part of the company's communication strategy or personal branding, the PR specialist's role is primarily to establish the expert's subject matter and verify the expert's public speaking skills. In the case of an expert speaking on behalf of a particular company, it is extremely important that he or she is able to talk about a given issue from a broad perspective and has an overview of the entire market, and not only in the context of the company he or she represents.


Proper preparation is the key to success

Not every person, despite having a wealth of knowledge or even being an authority in a particular field, can speak easily in the media. While commentary or answers to an interview for the press or online can be thought through twice, the stairs begin when it comes to live recordings on both radio and television. An expert for the media, in addition to specialising in a particular field, should also have the ability to communicate his or her knowledge in a straightforward manner and to deal with stress.

A huge role is therefore played by proper preparation of the specialist for live speeches. Some PR specialists are competent to conduct such training; if they are not, it is worth using the help of a trainer or coach. Very often, the training is conducted by journalists themselves, which additionally allows the expert to get used to a familiar face.

When a journalist is looking for an expert to work with, it is worth taking it up with someone who is represented by a PR specialist, as this increases the likelihood that they will be properly prepared. Therefore, in building an expert's image, it is important not only to briefer it before, but also to analyse it after the speech to make the next one better and better.


Fast action is the basis for good media relations

Being a moment ahead of the competition is one of the most important tasks of a PR professional also when placing an expert in the media. It is important to remember that there are many specialists in a given field and that we are not the only ones acting to promote the expert and the brand. It is therefore extremely important to be up-to-date in the field in which the expert is moving, whether it is a cosmetologist or a cosmonaut. Following the industry in which the expert operates allows the expert to react quickly and propose topics to both the expert and the media, and to respond promptly to current events. In this aspect, constant and good contact with the expert is also extremely important. Often, from a simple conversation, it is possible to draw out a wide variety of topics of interest to the media.

Speed also applies to preparing material for the media. Experts often do not realise how important it is for journalists to be first on a topic. After all, our specialists are not just experts for the media, but usually do their professional work on a daily basis. It is very common for them to procrastinate when it comes to providing comments or answers to interview questions. It is worth telling the expert at the very beginning of the cooperation what our work is like and why speed of response is so important. Usually, one fruitful cooperation with a journalist results in further ones, and the PR specialist's goal is for the journalist seeking an expert to approach him or her instead of the competition. It works much worse the other way round - a failure to deliver materials on time or a refusal at the last minute disqualifies a given expert not only with one journalist, but often with the entire editorial team of a given medium.

Of course, we also need to look at the other side of the coin and approach our expert's work with respect, giving him or her as much time as possible to create a statement or prepare for an appearance on camera.

In summary, the key to fruitful cooperation with an expert is to build a good relationship with him or her and to clearly define mutual expectations. In turn, the successful placement of the expert in the media depends mainly on his or her credibility, the quality of the material or statements and, of course, the speed of response.


About the author

Ewelina Jaskuła - a specialist in product and corporate communication. She has almost seven years of experience in the PR industry, which she gained while working on projects in various areas, including health, beauty, FMCG and education. She has supported brands such as Nivea, Nestle, TK Maxx and the City of Warsaw. Currently associated with Good One PR, where she is responsible for the preparation and implementation of comprehensive communication strategies for CMP Medical Centre, Würth Polska, Funtronic, Wenon and Piotr Sierpiński, Hair. Graduated in journalism and social communication from the University of Warsaw and Cardinal Stefan Wyszyński University.