Expert comments are an excellent public relations tool for building awareness of the brand through the presence of its representatives in the media. They help to ensure the company’s credibility and position. What is equally important, comments allow for exerting influence on the brand’s surroundings and for shaping opinions on topics which are relevant to its functioning. Expert comments are also a perfect means of building relations with journalists, for whom they are a valuable contribution to the content. Here is what you should do to be well prepared for this form of PR and attract the media’s attention.
Choose the brand’s faces
The first step should be to specify who is going to speak on behalf of the brand. This issue may be addressed in different ways, depending on the communication strategy. The commenting experts can include either one selected representative of the company or a few employees responsible for a given topic. Such person should have subject-matter knowledge and should be able to clearly convey information.
You should always have at hand good quality business photos of the selected brand representatives, therefore it is worth investing in a professional photo shoot. Short biographical notes of the experts may also be useful. Moreover, you should have at least one person ready to speak in front of the camera and the microphone. A professional media training can help prepare such persons. By meeting the company’s representatives and talking to them, we can assess which of them is best suited for such addresses.
Prepare an appropriate procedure
It is extremely important to develop a procedure for creating comments since the time of response to a journalist’s need often depends on the procedure’s effectiveness. It is often a key issue, especially in the mainstream media where a journalist expects an answer until the next day or even within several hours. You should define the entire path (including assigning roles to process participants), from being offered the possibility to comment up to delivering the comment in its final form.
Depending on the character of work in a given company or on the type of comment, its content is developed directly by the person who will make the comment, or the person accepts the text prepared by the PR team. For large corporations, sometimes the content needs to be approved by a senior employee responsible for communication. Content of comments must not be in contrast with the company’s interests and strategy.
Identify journalists and engage in cooperation with them
In order to be able to publish your experts’ comments in the media, you should first identify the titles in which you would like them to appear. The profiles and target groups of the selected media must be in line with the objectives of the brand’s communication strategy. The next step is to find journalists who cover the topics of interest to you. Having such a list, we can proceed to engaging in cooperation with the journalists by offering them the delivery of unique comments.
Then it is important to keep in touch with selected journalists and check whether in the nearest future they plan to cover the topics which you, as a brand, could comment on. Keeping an eye on it is key to marking your presence in the media in this way. Journalists often need comments to report on important current affairs. In such cases, you can get ahead of things by contacting the journalist and drawing their attention to a relevant topic while offering the delivery of your expert’s comment.
Once you manage to deliver the comment, which will be used in the coverage, it is very likely that in the future the journalist will contact you asking for an expert comment on another issue. This will prove that you are a reliable and trustworthy cooperation partner. You can get such positive feedback only by delivering high-quality comments (more information below).
Ensure the right quality
A good quality expert’s comment should meet a few basic conditions:
1. Relevance to the topic
The prepared comments must be relevant to the topic and confirm the author’s knowledge and competences in the given field. The comment should as accurately answer the question asked as possible. Giving too general answers, not necessarily relevant to the topic, or with self-promotion, may not be well received and the journalist may find the delivered material inappropriate.
The comment should be neither too long nor too brief – you should try to find the golden mean. Sometimes journalists specify the number of characters they expect. In most cases, from the supplied content, editors choose the fragments most relevant to the coverage. We should not make the selection process harder for them. Therefore you should do your best to concisely answer the question and include your message (but only where relevant to the topic).
3. Language correctness
While, as I wrote earlier, time is often the key factor in preparing comments for the media, the rush does not release you from the need to comply with language standards. Before sending the comment, check it thoroughly and correct mistakes, if any. Do not leave it to the journalists. Your cooperation with them is also about saving their time.
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