Expert Alerts Are a Journalist's Resource

February 6, 2020

2020 has already been particularly busy for the news cycle. And with an upcoming presidential election, the pace of the news cycle will surely increase. As events break or shape the year, journalists will continue to seek out expert voices to inform their reporting.

Partnering with our communications colleagues across the U of M, University Relations uses Expert Alerts in response to timely or trending topics in the news. Expert Alerts amplify our faculty expertise and are shared with local, state and national journalists as sources for their stories.

We know journalists find Expert Alerts a valuable resource. An Expert Alert on past events in Iran generated interest from broadcast and print outlets throughout the state and resulted in subsequent media appearances for a CLA faculty member on the Twin Cities campus.

In other instances, journalists have contacted us months after receiving an Expert Alert to request an interview. That tells us they are keeping them on hand and reaching out when they need to.

Additionally, we hope that when journalists search online for an expert on “XYZ,” our Expert Alerts will appear at the top. This makes it easier for journalists to quickly identify and connect with our faculty experts.

We came across some related data from the 2019 Expert Sources Survey on how journalists identify and reach experts. The survey, a collaboration between the Associated Press and ExpertFile, found:

  • 67% of journalists rely heavily on their own personal contacts to identify experts.
  • 55% of journalists and other newsroom professionals use Google as a primary starting point for identifying experts.
  • On average, it takes a journalist two hours to secure an expert for an interview.

You can see previous Expert Alerts here. If you would like to learn more about creating an Expert Alert or explore potential topics, please let us know at unews@umn.edu or 612-624-5551.

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