What journalists will look at to determine your expertise

Woman holding magnifying glass

I’ve talked about imposter syndrome before in these newsletters (if you haven’t read Your biggest media fears debunked then make sure you catch it some time in the archive!) and it’s something I will bring up again and again - because we all know it doesn’t just get magically fixed, but is something we have to work on continually as we build up to bigger goals.

I know one of the biggest fears people have when pitching big media is: “am I good enough?”

And, in my view, that’s an abstract question that we’d need a bottle of wine and a whole evening to unpack together (the cliff notes version: of course you are, but whether your actions and self worth are aligning with that is a different matter!).

A much easier question to answer - and one that you can take steps towards right now - is: “what will journalists be looking at to determine my expertise?”

This ‘expertise’ can be defined in a number of ways, but if you’re claiming to know what you’re talking about in your pitch, they’re going to be looking for it somewhere.

Here the main areas they’ll be looking at.

If you’ve got professional qualifications

Qualifications related to your field are a huge bonus, particularly if you’re working in anything health or wellbeing related where they have to be particularly careful about what they write about.

Action: If you have any qualifications, make sure you include the letters after your name, or state that you’re ‘certified’ or ‘qualified’ or ‘registered’ (whatever the most appropriate term for you is) in your signature or About Me section.

Your website

They’ll want to see that you have a professional website - either for yourself or your business - and that, regardless of which it is, there is a very clear, very easy to find page that tells them exactly who you are and what your job is (please use easy to understand language here - more on this next week).

It doesn’t need to be super fancy, just clean and professional looking and easy to navigate.

Action: check your website for an ‘About’ section. Ask a friend or family member to tell you honestly if it makes sense (again, more on this next week). Check the hyperlink you add to your pitch or signature is actually working correctly.

If you’ve authored anything

Written a chapter in a book or a whole book? Written a white paper? Have a column? If you’ve been given some kind of platform to write about your expertise, they’ll want to know about it and have access to it in your pitch.

Action: make sure you link to anything you’ve authored in your About section and your email signature.

Your social media presence

It’s important you share any social media presence your business or you have in a professional capacity as social media is a huge part of life nowadays and they’ll want to see how you’re showing up there.

Now, please don’t sweat - no one is expecting you to have a massive following or to be on every platform, but they’ll often want to see how you’re interacting with your audience.

Please note, this does NOT include accounts only for personal use (ie. please don’t share your instagram if it’s only pictures of you drinking martinis with your cat).

Only work through Facebook? No problem - just share your page or group, if you have one. But bear in mind, a lot of journalists hang out on Twitter, Instagram and TikTok, so you could be missing out on some key industry relationships by neglecting these platforms.

Action: make sure your professional social accounts are hyperlinked correctly in your signature.

Other press coverage you’ve had

It’s a bit of a snowball effect - if you’ve been featured by a reputable media brand before, it can often make it easier to get featured again.

Don’t worry if you’re totally new to the media and haven’t been featured before - it certainly doesn’t mean that you won’t be, but if there have been any media -style features of you in the past, they’re worth adding in.

Action: Make sure you share any coverage you’ve had with reputable brands - either media or through blogs, podcasts etc. One of the easiest ways to do this is to create an ‘As Seen In’ banner to put on the bottom of your emails.

These are small tweaks, but ones that can make a huge difference to your pitch.