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Earn your place in a journalist’s contact book

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Journalists love experts. Our trade is not to know a lot of stuff, but to know who the experts are. A journalist’s contact book is her best friend.

If you want media coverage, you need to be in several journalists’ contact books, ideally on one of the most thumbed pages.

Surprisingly, you do not have to be the most knowledgeable person in your field to get into a journalist’s contact book.

What matters to journalists about knowledge is different to what matters to your peers, your clients or your rivals.

How to share your knowledge with journalists

When it comes to knowledge, journalists want you to:

  • Be available to share your knowledge (answer their calls immediately).
  • Understand the value of your knowledge to their readers. Many of us underestimate what we know (especially women).
  • Make your knowledge relevant to their readers.
  • Present your ideas in ways that are understandable to their readership.
  • Be crisp, neat and pithy – don’t say too much.
  • Answer their questions.
  • Know how to answer the wrong questions.
  • Be controversial (more than original).
  • Know who the global authority in your field is, and quote that person’s work when relevant.
  • Even if you are the global authority, refer to another authority who builds your brand and positioning.
  • Put your knowledge in context.

The knowledge journalists love most

Putting knowledge in context is one of the most overlooked opportunities in media interviews. Lawyers are among the best sources in terms of context – it must be the way they’re trained – but getting lawyers to talk to the media is like pulling teeth. It simply means that you frame the debate surrounding your knowledge.

For example, in the field of content marketing, there is a debate about how to measure results, and the world authority on the subject, the founder of the Content Marketing Institute, Joe Pulizzi, says marketers are using the wrong measure – website traffic – instead of the right measure – building subscriptions (an audience for your content).


For those of us who want to build our media profile, how we present knowledge is as important as the knowledge itself.


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