Secrets to Promoting your Experts to Chase Producers: What exactly do they need from you?December 10, 20194 min read
Many moons ago, when I worked in a newsroom, my Executive Producer once said to me, “We only really work five days a year, the other 360 are just filler.”
He was being cheeky and clearly exaggerating – but what he meant was that outside of elections, plane crashes and visits by the Pope or President, assignment editors are constantly scrambling to feed the beast and fill a newscast or a paper.
It’s even worse in what we now know as the 24-hour news cycle. The news doesn’t sleep anymore. There’s no down time and a lot of time and space to fill.
The reality is, with the modern news cycle now being immediate, never ending, online and everywhere the need for content is greater than ever before.
From local papers, radio affiliates and even national broadcasts, the need for expertise, opinion and perspective is one of the few common denominators in journalism.
And, when it comes to the 24-hour national TV news networks, the demand is even higher with reporters, researchers, technicians, assignment editors, executive producers and chase producers all hunting and scraping for issues and experts to illustrate those issues.
This is great insight to be aware of if your role is to get your experts in the news.
I worked with Mark Borchiver early in my career. He’s the Associate Producer, CTV National News with Lisa Laflamme which has a viewership of millions across the country. He helps put the show together every night and can tell you that the chase desk is busy all day to feed 24-hour news. They rely on a steady stream of guests and experts. On National News, CTV has a lot of go-to people who either contact CTV or CTV will call them.
“The real challenge is to bring fresh talent to the newscast,” Borchiver says. “We need to bring new experts and talking heads into the news family because there’s a certain audience fatigue and predictability factor, when the same guests keep showing up. “
And with media, presentation is just as important as being primed. If you are going to be interviewed or appear on a show that has an audience of a million critical viewers, be prepared. If you are not prepared, there’s a good chance you won’t be invited back, says Borchiver.
“Experts need to be media trained and ready for air. Not everyone has the same skill level and not everyone can be taught.”
Every news market is different. There are different perspectives, news approaches and quite honestly finding and accessing credible and reliable expertise isn’t as easy as one would think.
Even for a news giant like Al Jazeera, in Qatar, finding that ideal person to lend perspective or context isn’t easy.
“Part of my job is selecting which stories deserve analysis or reaction from what we call ‘guests’,”
Morgan Waters tells me.
Morgan, who I also worked with back in my early TV days is now the Executive Producer, Aljazeera English Global. A big job, with high expectations and obviously little room for error.
“For us this means a segment, usually live, where anchors conduct interviews for about three to five minutes on a particular subject. This is very important for our organization so I usually deal with about a dozen guest segments every day, plus next day guest planning.”
At Al – Jazeera they have a team of interview producers whose job it is to find, pre interview and book these people. They usually go for people through credible organizations that the network trusts, such as NGOs, think tanks, and academic institutions although each interview producer has their own contact list which also include activists, bloggers and civil society.
But that isn’t where the credibility check ends.
Waters also reminds me,
“An expert may work for a credible organization and appear regularly in the media but if I suspect his information is questionable then I won’t ask to book him. “
So in a nutshell, here it is plain and simple.
There’s a never-ending news cycle out there. And it needs to be constantly fed.
Some organizations wait to be called, while others or pro-actively building relationships with reporters and producers to get their experts seen, heard and read. Many have signed on with ExpertFile, a procured expert database full of people who want to be interviewed and are ready for it.
Offering up your in-house expertise and providing someone who is credible, reliable, objective and can shed light, a unique perspective or a fresh angle on news story helps journalists deliver the content they need to the audience that wants.
You win. They win. Win-Win.
So go feed the beast. Have your organization seen in the news, heard by a massive audience and promoted across multiple media platforms.
All for free. Well, free with the exception of some serious effort and savvy on your part. But cost-free for your organization.
So what do organizations need to know?
- Be Fast: When news breaks be responsive. Take advantage of the moment and offer up your expert. Delays reduce your chances that you will get scooped by another organization.
- Be Prepared: If you offer someone up to media – make sure they have some degree of media training.
- Be Pro-Active: Don’t wait for media to come to you. Go to them.
- Be Current: Ensure your expert information such as biographies, publications, photos, videos are easy to review and up to date.
- Be Discoverable: Get your content outside of your own website. Often media won’t look there first. Ensure your experts can be found in other ways such as the ExpertFile database at Expertfile.com which is home to thousands of experts who are just a click away for media.
Peter Evans Co-Founder & CEO
Recognized speaker on expertise marketing, technology and innovation