In the financial services context, what sets apart those subject matter experts who succeed in becoming regular resources to the media? In our experience, it isn’t just the size of the firm and the renown of its brand. While those factors may help, our observation is that the reputation for expertise derives from a few key factors:

  1. Original content, developed and distributed on a consistent basis: Some experts write content monthly; other more frequently. The consistent flow of insightful, original content can be helpful for journalists who may come to anticipate it, just as the writer’s primary audience does.
  2. A mix of content types and outlets: Develop and share in-depth white papers or articles; short blog-length reflections; brief comments with charts or Q&As in the form of media advisories. Consider Mohamed El-Erian, a leading go-to resource for the media, who posts frequently on LinkedIn and Twitter as well as contributing through more formal media such as Bloomberg View.
  3. Timely content: Even quotations on evergreen topics such as investment allocations and tax planning tend to come from people who have something specific to say about what’s happening now. That timeliness is why journalists want to talk to a contact in the first place. Plan ahead so your content stays ahead of the story. Say a tax policy is under consideration in Congress. Don’t wait to write something upon its final implementation. Rather, prepare bulleted notes on implications when the policy is in process. Widely quoted people tend to address a mix of topics; one of the ways to develop that mix is to focus on whatever is current and put yourself in your clients’ shoes—what questions or concerns do your clients have and/or what should they be aware of?

Besides these content-specific factors, building expertise relies on the basics of building good relationships with journalists, such as availability, returning calls quickly, respecting deadlines, and avoiding self-promotion. Finally, building expertise with the media takes time. As in years—the result of providing timely assistance to reporters in ways that build and sustain relationship over time.