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Marketing / Public relations, PR

So you think you’re a subject matter expert?

Being quoted as a subject matter expert in the media can give you and your business enormous PR leverage. But what does it take to convince a journo of your expertise?

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You may be a real master at what you do and so consider yourself a subject matter expert.

But the media have a particular view of what exactly makes a subject matter expert. There are certain unspoken criteria they need filled before they’ll accept you for a story or interview. In fact, you may be the world’s leading expert at what you do, but unless you meet their criteria, journalists just won’t speak to you.

The same goes for getting invited to speak at conferences and seminars. Conference organisers are looking for the back-story and credibility that demonstrates to the audience that you’re supremely qualified to share your opinions.

It’s easier for academics to prove they’re experts. They teach at a university – tick. They have a title such as Professor or Doctor – tick. They’ve had papers published – tick. And they’ve probably spoken at a few recent conferences – tick, tick.

"You may be the world’s leading expert at what you do, but unless you meet their criteria, journalists just won’t speak to you."

But what if you’re in business for yourself? How do you prove you’re someone worth listening to? Media need a quick indication you’re a good bet. They don’t have time to research or read your CV. They just need to hear a few of the criteria.

Want more articles like this? Check out the Public relations, PR section.

When talking to prospective clients, I use a little quiz I call the Expert Litmus Test. Usually these people have called me because they’re an expert wanting to step up to a new level. They might be expanding their business or promoting a book or event. The person I’m talking to usually knows their subject very well. But will anyone else agree that they’re a subject matter expert? I created this list to help me recognise when I’m talking to an expert that the media and the public will acknowledge and believe in.

Take a look and see how you score:

  • Have you recently spoken at conferences or given any public talks?
  • Have you recently published a book?
  • Do you run workshops in capital cities?
  • Do you write a popular industry blog; are you considered an opinion-maker?
  • Are you on any industry bodies or major boards?
  • Have you consulted to government or major companies?
  • Who are your clients? Do you have testimonials from any well-known clients?
  • Have you received international acknowledgement or worked overseas?
  • Have you recently won an award?

How did you go? If you’ve ticked two or three of these, the good news is, you’re on your way to becoming the kind of subject expert media want to talk to.  Did you fall short? Don’t worry – you’ve now got the golden list that shows how to get that credibility.

Have you been quoted by the media as a subject matter expert?

Show off your expertise by telling us all how you demonstrated your credentials, and what the effect was on your small business.

Katie McMurray

is passionate about business publicity and creating authentic public profiles for business owners.

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