How to be a Media Commentator
These days it pays dividends to become a voice of authority within your industry – in other words, a media commentator.
What is a media commentator? Simply put, a media commentator is either the face of a company (usually a CEO, founder, or entrepreneur), or an independent industry expert, who the media views as the ‘go-to’ person when they need a little industry insight. Essentially a thought leader. Think Simon Calder who appears on every news channel going when there’s any kind of discussion around travel. Or someone like Martin Lewis the ‘Money Saving Expert’.
Of course, the point of being a media commentator isn’t just so you can get your face on the telly. It actually comes with a cornucopia of PR-boosting benefits, from snaring additional exposure within the media, to being an influential voice within your industry and placing your company at the forefront of the public’s consciousness. All useful stuff.
But how do you become one? Since it largely rests on reputation, there’s no fast track method to becoming a media commentator. Instead, it’s a gradual process that can take many months, or more likely years, to achieve. Nonetheless, here’s a few tried and tested methods for getting yourself well on the way.
Sure, your company might have solid, distinctive branding and you might have a vast knowledge of your industry. But as an individual media commentator, who are you? For a start, you need to be interesting. The more interesting you are and the more interesting things you say, the more likely audiences will pay you attention and the more likely the media will want to talk to you. Whether this is because you’re funny, witty, passionate or controversial is up to you. But it’s important not to contradict or divert too far away from your established company image.
Consistency is important. Be aware of the beliefs and principles you share with your brand and stick to them. And consider the ‘tone of voice‘ in which you address the public, customers and the media. Be interesting, informative and likeable. That’s what keeps people listening.
Lead with your voice
With pretty much every major brand now having an active voice on all the major social media platforms, this is where you need to establish yours too. Both Twitter and LinkedIn provide the perfect platforms to become a thought leader within your industry, as well as an ideal place to share content with your audience. Be sure to post consistently, and keep your commentary interesting, challenging and enthusiastic. You’ll want to stick to the facts too. False claims and misinformation aren’t easily forgiven by the public or media, and will damage your credibility before you’ve even had a chance to earn it.
Alongside consistently sharing your thoughts, creating original content is also key. Thought-driven blogs, insightful articles on the future of your industry, and even, how-to videos work well here, not just to promote your business and keep your audience interested, but also to bolster your reputation as an expert within your field. When the media are looking for a ‘talking head’, this is the stuff they’ll check out. So make it outstanding.
While much of a media commentator’s focus is spent being proactive and sharing thoughts related to their brand and industry, it’s just as important to get topical from time to time. Whenever industry-related news breaks, never miss the opportunity to comment on it and when possible, share a unique and captivating point of view that others haven’t picked up on yet. For example, if a competitor starts talking about industry disruption, perhaps comment on the potential for disruptive innovation instead. Thought leaders rarely state the obvious.
Being reactive will further enforce your reputation as an expert and thought leader within your field, and eventually, as you become better known, it’s likely you’ll be called upon by the media to comment on future news stories. This can mean TV appearances, radio interviews, or simply giving your thoughts to a national newspaper, all of which equal greater exposure for you, your brand, and your reputation as an industry guru.
Have a good relationship with the media
Once you’re on the media’s radar, you’ll want to stay there and that’s where developing a good relationship with the media comes in.
First and foremost, be pleasant and easy to deal with. It makes everyone’s day go a bit better. Secondly, be authentic and transparent, even in the face of controversy. The press can smell a fake a mile off. And thirdly, don’t waste their time, nag them, or forget that you need them more than they need you. Play by those rules, and chances are it’ll work out well for you.