Challenges of Introducing New Experts to the Media

September 3, 2021

As media look to diversify their expert sources to be more representative of the outlet’s communities and audience, public relations professionals have a chance to engage journalists and advocate for their experts to have a voice in local, regional and national conversations.

During the Big Ten+ News and Marketing Conference, hosted by the University of Wisconsin, a panel spoke in-length about building a diverse group of expert voices.

Key highlights from their panel can help you build your own expert group and include:

  • Expanding vetted sources allows outlets to deepen their bench of experts to reflect their audience;
  • Diversifying experts early to help get staff and faculty familiar with the media over time as they find their voices;
  • Producing expert profiles before pushing out peer-reviewed research;
  • Approaching potential experts as a person first, building a relationship before approaching them as an expert;
  • Slowing the process down and making space for the experts to talk about their media goals;
  • Attaching new expert promotion to a timepeg;
  • Investing in proper media training — one bad media experience can isolate a well-versed expert.

In University Relations, the public relations team is a great resource for communicators and faculty to have a strategic conversation of how to be put forward as an expert and speak to media. The public relations office has two online tools — U of M Expert Alert and Talking with U of M — that allow faculty and staff to own and address timely topics in their field. The team also offers media training, per request, to assist faculty and staff in presenting and preparing themselves well for media interviews.

To learn more, contact University Public Relations at unews@umn.edu.