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Want to be quoted in the press/media as an expert? Here's what you really need to know
Top tips someone who's spent 20+ years as a journalist and featured in many places as a coach and expert on careers and work (me)
I spend a lot of my time either including people in my articles as experts, interviewing them for think pieces, or putting myself forward as an expert to be quoted in articles.
For over 20 years I’ve built up a network of trusted ‘rent a quotes’ who I turn to for insight and industry knowledge.
That also extends to my podcast, Freelance Feels, and in my role as Senior Features Editor at HR Grapevine.
I know a lot about how to annoy a journalist - and how to make them a connection that’ll last a lifetime and, if you are wise with the coverage you get, build a platform for your brand without costing a penny.
When someone is a trusted source, who I know will reply quickly and with insight, I call them a ‘rent-a-quote’.
Want to be one of those people to journalists in your niche? Here’s what to do (and what not to):
📖 Read the publications you want to feature in. Every day. Consume them. Sign up to their newsletters and analyse what topics they cover and what angles they go for. Nothing worse than someone saying 'would you like to cover XYZ' and the writer thinking 'Er, did that last week!'. Actually worse than them thinking it is them telling you on email and you cringing!
While you’re at it, follow the people who write for them across multiple platforms and connect with them on LinkedIn if they’re on there. ALWAYS send a hello note.
📲 Look at the hashtag #journorequest on Twitter/X (mainly T/X, but also other platforms). It’s the best kept ‘do your own PR secret’ as we use it to accompany shout outs.
✅ Make sure you are confident to have an opinion about the topic. Don't just reply because it's a favourite publication. Does the shout-out relate to YOUR niche? That's important as it will go on to cement you as 'the expert'
🕵️♂️ Do some detective work. When you don't see an email for the person doing the shout-out and you can't DM, look for them elsewhere! Is their email on their website, or another platform? Connect on LinkedIn and intro yourself.
👋 Don't wait for a request or shout out, introduce yourself. Sending out intro emails is a great way to start conversations. Say what you specialise in and you can even add a one-page 'CV'
🔥 Use what you do get. Share, tag, thank the journalist and publication. Use it on your socials to your LinkedIn to say 'I was featured!' You could also write a post about the experience of being in the media. Remember to share the link to their piece if you're sharing a link - that's just good manners. Also, remember anything they write is their copyright so if you do your own post, make sure it's your original words and a link to their piece).
✏️ Don’t send over a full article or offer to write one. Journalists aren’t the expert in your niche, and you’re not a journalist. Most publications won’t take a pre-written piece from you, or commission one if you’re not a professional writer. Keep your email clear and to the point - say what you specialise in, what you can talk about, and suggest some themes, sure. Eg You might be a career coach, and email some journos to say you’re available for back-to-school ‘feelings’ commentary, or ways people can pivot in their work if they’re post-holiday blue.
If you have loads of ideas for articles, or features, that’s great - create a substack, or write them as blogs or articles on LinkedIn to ADD to your clout as a thoughtleader who has something to say.
🚨 And finally a note on backlinks/hyperlinks...
I have had a few requests lately for backlinks in features (sometimes before someone offers comment, and sometimes after the piece is written) and it can feel quite demanding when you've worked hard to include someone in your feature.
Remember, press coverage as an expert is not just about the link! Your client or you might think so but a link is just a link unless it's used wisely and works hard for you. If you ask for a link you’re saying ‘can I take your readers away from your site?’ and how you’d feel if someone asked you the same thing. It’s not a given that by providing quotes you get that link - it’s up to you how you use the coverage not up to use to drive your traffic.
Of course we’d link to research because that’s showing our source.
💾 Don't see the link as the only outcome and remember some/many won't agree to it if it's editorial. You’re not paying for content and you’ve offered up your quotes. You can’t demand hyperlinks once that’s done, and it can put some journos off working with you in the future.
Basically, if you can only think about how our article gets readers to your website, that doesn't feel very collaborative. That might sound a bit mean, or defensive, and I guess it is a bit - the thing is, if the first thing we're asked when a piece goes live is 'can we have a backlink?' and you don't do anything else to showcase our piece on your socials, we can feel a bit used.
Is that all you wanted us for, a link? A way to take our readers away from our site and to your site? Hmmph.
Here’s the answer: Think about how you can leverage the coverage by yourself rather than just saying to us ‘link to my site please’. Where can you post the link and get others to read what you have to say?
Asking if we’ll include a link before you offer quotes can be helpful, but, again, if that’s your dealbreaker I don’t see you as someone who wants to share their expertise and more someone who wants the clicks.
Remember, if you’ve approached a journalist to get your quotes featured, you’re already winning if they say yes as you won’t be the only one who emailed them.
🔗 If you do get a link, ask yourself: Is your website working HARD when the person clicks through? Do you have an 'in the press' section or 'as seen in' on your site? Even without a link, you've been 'seen in' and you can leverage that across multiple platforms.
If you do feel a link is a dealbreaker, say so upfront - and be sure of the link you provide. For example, I often ask for a link to my instagram rather than my website. But be prepared for the journo to go elsewhere for quotes if all you want is a link - this is about relationships, and your brand and status as a thoughtleader, not just clicks.