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Why being an expert is the fast track to media coverage

I have been involved in news media for 37 years as a reporter and producer of TV news, and as the executive producer of a radio current affairs program.  I have also been on the other side as a spokesperson for a brand, injecting myself into the news cycle as a subject matter expert.

Having put thousands of news items to air and been part of a news story on multiple occasions, it’s clear to me that each story is a combination of only four characters:

  1. The Witness
  2. The Proposer
  3. The Opposer
  4. The Expert

While they may not all appear in every story and a single person may play multiple roles, these characters are the interchangeable factors in each story equation.

The Witness.

The best witness is also the victim of the event. Firsthand accounts of events are the basis of every story. A victim establishes proof that an event occurred – and consequently it could happen to anyone = audience engagement.  If the direct victim is unavailable (unknown, unwilling, in custody or deceased) an eyewitness will do. Watch/listen for “It sounded like a bomb had gone off!” or “They seemed like an ordinary family.”

The Proposer.

News stories rely on conflict to exist, so there must be a proposer and an opposer. To establish conflict, news stories will focus on the most controversial proposer or the most controversial aspect of the proposer’s argument. Listen for “A radical proposal to…” and “There are calls for…”

The Opposer.

The Opposer then is usually the person arguing for the status quo or is diametrically positioned to The Proposer and argues why The Proposer’s proposal should be opposed. Essential conflict is now established – without this, the story would not be broadcast/printed.

The Expert.

The Expert settles the argument between The Proposer and The Opposer, establishes the truth of the victim’s claims, and corroborates claims about consequences.

The Expert – where one is available – is crucial because journalism requires balance and a perceived lack of bias to be credible. The facts stated by The Expert provides unbiased balance and therefore credibility.

By being the expert voice of your industry, you can become an indispensable part of any news media story. The difficulty is in making the media aware of your presence. Not only is the media industry huge, but it is also fluid with producers and editors and guest bookers entering and leaving the business or being promoted or moving to another employer constantly. And you must be able to speak their language and understand their needs and the demands they face.

That’s why you need a partner like Media Stable. As former journalists, producers and reporters, we not only understand the elements needed for every story, but we also know how valuable your expertise is in the equation.

If you’d like to be an expert in your industry and get the exposure you deserve for you and your brand, contact Media Stable.

By Phil Sylvester, General Manager (NSW), Media Stable

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