PR & thought leadership

5 secrets of quotable thought leaders

Sandra Stewart | October 14, 2014

Ever read the news and think, “Why does that guy get quoted all the time?” Here’s your answer: that guy, like other savvy experts, worked a smart strategy to get in front of journalists covering his field. Then he made himself invaluable by having something smart and relevant to say most of the time and being willing to help all of the time.

If you have expertise and can express it clearly, ideally with a bit of flair, you can become that guy or that woman. Just adopt the following habits of go-to expert sources (and don’t forget the initial PR and thought leadership strategy).

Have opinions. It’s not enough to know what’s going on in your field—you have to have opinions that you’re willing to express publicly. Reporters appreciate information but opinions get quoted. What’s important about X? Why should we all be looking at Y? Is this a trend? You get the idea.

Get those opinions out there. Don’t wait to be asked. Write articles and blog posts, do video interviews and podcasts. These pieces serve as calling cards that demonstrate your expertise and voice, and give interviewers an idea of what you might say.

Know the facts. Never wing it. Stating as a fact something you’re pretty sure you know, but haven’t confirmed, is a bad idea. If you’re wrong and the reporter checks facts, you become an unreliable source—the opposite of a go-to expert. And if the reporter doesn’t check facts, others are likely to point out the error, embarrassing both you and the reporter—the worst possible situation.

Share your sources. You probably won’t have something to say every time a writer calls. But you probably know someone who does, or an organization or other resource that’s a great source of information on the topic. Be generous—provide as much help as you can, even if it gets you no ink. It demonstrates your expertise and encourages reporters to keep coming back to you.

Answer questions that aren’t asked. Point reporters in directions they haven’t thought of, and if they’re not asking all the right questions, ask and answer them yourself. Even better, reach out now and then with a “Hey, here’s a soon-to-be hot topic you might want to jump on.”

Of course, the more prestigious your company is, the easier it will be to get on reporters’ radar. But if you have the goods, the patience and the right strategic foundation, these are secrets to success.

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