How to Find the Right Expert Comments for Your Reactive PR Story
We all want to create the perfect creative piece that will wow our clients and, of course, journalists. We want to add exclusive data, infographics, video and interactives. But this type of content will usually take many hours to produce, and we won’t always have the time or the resources to launch such big campaigns.
Moreover, the pandemic has changed the rules of digital PR. With a news agenda focused on lockdown restrictions and the vaccine rollout, we’ve learnt the importance of using a reactive PR approach at Kaizen by being aware of what’s trending in the news to pivot our campaigns and ensure they are newsworthy.
But how can you guarantee that your story will stand out among hundreds of emails with similar stories? The answer is… be relevant and authoritative!
There are two ways in which you can increase the value and authority of your reactive content or listicle and make journalists’ lives easier: focus on measurable data and/or include expert comments. In this blog, I will focus on the latter, as not everybody knows how to find the right sources for expert comments that will make stories even more interesting.
Here are my 4 tips on how to find the right expert comments for your reactive PR stories:
Tip 1: Define the type of expert that you will need for your story
We know that with globalisation, it’s now possible to find professionals that will be willing to comment on almost anything. Some of them are even specialised in niche areas.
Before receiving hundreds of responses from people interested in adding comments to your piece, it’s essential to define very clearly who you would like to have featured in your story. It’s like building a profile of the perfect expert that you would expect to see in a similar story to really add value to it. If we are doing a story about healthy eating habits, for example, you’d probably need nutritionists and experts in fitness. If it’s a story on mental health, psychologists are the most authoritative expert source.
It’s also important to choose the location of this potential source. If we are talking about a universal topic, you could have a professional from the other side of the world, but if it’s a more localised topic, you may need a source from a specific country or region.
We recently launched a piece on the Five facts you didn’t know about the dirt in your toothbrush for our client Doop Toothbrush. Being a niche topic, we knew from the beginning that we needed dentists to comment on this, but we also wanted to bring different perspectives to it. So, we included dentists, pediatric dentists and co-founders of oral hygiene startups. Since it’s a universal topic, we included perspectives from both the UK and the USA.
Try to do this exercise before you put out any request for expert commentary.
Tip 2: Use the internet to gather your experts
Now it’s less common to go out and find sources for your stories like reporters used to do in the past. Even the use of the telephone to interview sources has been reduced. Instead, use the internet to gather experts in the most varied areas.
This doesn’t mean you’ll need to start sending spammy emails to everybody. Several websites offer the chance to post for free your expert comment requests classified by field or topic. These will arrive to experts subscribed to mailing lists for that topic, and if they are interested in participating, they will only have to reply to your request.
I personally use Response Source, Qwoted and HARO. They all tend to have a speedy turnaround, and you can start getting suggestions from experts almost instantly. Just be cautious that if you use HARO, you will get many experts from the USA instead of the UK.
Another effective way to do this is by posting a tweet with the hashtags #JournoRequest and #PRRequest. You’d be surprised by the number of people on Twitter willing to collaborate with their expertise in a particular field.
If you have followed tip 1, you basically have what you need to include in your request. Be conscious that the more specific, the better to get the right sources/experts comments. Don’t forget to include in your request details about the article you are writing, the client, the topic, the type of professional you want to get comments from (dentist, doctor, psychologist, marketing expert), your deadline and the territories where you are planning to outreach your content.
Tip 3: Prepare questions
Some things never change, and the good rules of journalism are still relevant today.
If you want to get answers, be prepared with the right questions. Think about the potential experts that will contribute to your story. What would you like them to say about the topic you are writing about? Write these questions in advance, whether you are planning to include them in your initial expert comment request or later on once you start receiving feedback.
I prefer to use them in the latter stage. Once I start getting responses from experts interested in giving comments, I make a short selection and send them my questions. By doing this, I guarantee that their comments will be relevant to my story and not just general comments about the topic I’m covering.
Tip 4: Use case studies
Sometimes expert comments are not the only valid source for a story to be newsworthy. Equally important are case studies or, in other words, everyday people that could share their experiences on a particular situation they have experienced themselves. The tools that I showed above work perfectly for that purpose too.
Finding the right expert sources in a tight time frame is a skill that can be developed by trying. I encourage you to start looking at these tools, and above all, try to be on top of the current national and international news to spot reactive or newsjacking opportunities that will put your clients in the spotlight.
Want to know how the Kaizen team could help your brand activate a reactive PR campaign strategy? Get in touch.
By Grace Hartnett - 08/12/2021