The latest edition of Influence, the CIPR's weekly newsletter contains an excellent piece by @GabrielleLane_ on how to position an expert as, well, an expert.
As a PR specialising in the legal sector, the article resonated strongly. Law firm partners' are absolute experts in their chosen field - be it family law, IP, property, tax, or whatever.
Given their depth of knowledge, partners are ideally placed to provide business journalists with insight and comment. What's more, you don't need to be a partner at A&O or Baker McKenzie to provide expert commentary. Partners at small and medium sized firms are equally knowledgeable and regular media quotes will enable individual lawyers to punch above their weight, impress existing clients and reach out to a wider audience.
Considering their high level of expertise, preparing comment does not need to be particularly onerous or time consuming. It can even become self-perpetuating because time-pressed journalists and editors tend to return time and time again to the same trusted experts.
To get started, here are my top tips:
Use accessible language – as detail people, this is where lawyers can get a little unstuck. Make sure written comment is provided in a friendly accessible tone and avoid complex legal jargon. This also applies when talking to a journalist and remember that the only person who is likely to scrutinise an article is the contributing source.
Have an opinion - A piece of comment is far more likely to be picked up by the media of it stands out from the crowd so try and say something a little different. While impartiality will be necessary in certain situations, in other instances it may be perfectly ok to be opinionated.
Respond quickly + respect deadlines - if a news story breaks with a relevant angle, issue comment quickly to appropriate journalists, ideally within 30 minutes.
Say thank you – if a piece of written comment or a telephone interview does lead to a quote, a quick email to say thank you will be appreciated by the reporter and will also confirm that you felt that their story was fair and accurate.
THE EXPERTS’ GUIDE TO EXPERTS Some people might think they’ve had enough of ‘experts’ and ‘thought leaders’, but they haven’t met yours yet… By Gabrielle Lane In September 2010, economist Jeremy Cook appeared on BBC News 24 to discuss the US Federal Reserve’s decision to maintain its existing interest rates in spite of the country’s flagging economy. The US central bank’s inaction had surprised analysts and, in the wake of the global recession, the two-and-a-half-minute slot at 8.40pm in the evening was bread-and-butter business news.