How to become the ‘industry expert’

We all know him (or her), the ‘industry expert’, often at a rival firm, whose name is annoyingly spattered across the trade press and often the nationals as well—always the first port of call of any journalist looking for comment. This individual gains acres of coverage, influence and brand awareness. So why can’t this be you—or someone in your organisation? Perhaps it can. You have to put in the work, but the dividends can be impressive if you pick your opportunities well. Of course your views have to be worth listening to—think beyond the standard self-serving responses, towards broader industry views that will have wider resonance. You will have to be outspoken at times, rather than consistently mealy-mouthed. Your objective should be to give your organisation influence, credibility and visibility, so you can raise issues, set agendas and change opinions. Start tweeting pithy, interesting points about trends in your sector and reply to tweets from the influential journalists. They will start to notice you and are then more likely to get in touch when they need a quote. Send timely, brief press releases with pithy comment and reaction to current news events: the budget, new legislation, interest rate rises, whatever is relevant. You may be surprised at who picks these up. It helps if you are willing to speak at conferences, write in magazines and meet key journalists so they are aware of you. Most important, you will have to make yourself available when the journalist calls and, to be truly effective, prepare so you can be a great media performer, communicating with fluency and a lively turn of phrase.  Perhaps a refresher training course would be a good idea to polish up the techniques to make you stand out from the crowd.