Juggling Act: How to Manage Multiple Subject Matter Experts

By: Chris Austin

The best media relations programs are strategic in nature. For organizations with several lines of business—and multiple subject matter experts who can speak intelligently to those various topics—this can present unique challenges for implementing and maintaining a strategic approach. Which aspect of the business do you focus on and when? Who do you position as the source for media opportunities? How do you distribute opportunities equally to avoid internal politics? How do you manage multiple subject matter experts looking for media exposure and visibility? Here are a few tips I’ve learned to better navigate these situations.

Learn Who Wants to be Involved—and Who Doesn’t
Sometimes there are individuals that just have no desire to be part of media opportunities—and that’s OK! Focus your efforts on the people who do want to be involved in the process. What I’ve found is that those folks are generally more willing to help brainstorm media topics, perform the due diligence to prepare for successful interviews, and make an effort over time to improve their work as a spokesperson and brand ambassador for the company.

Implement a Vertical Strategy
One of the best things you can do to bring your efforts in alignment with goals is to create a vertical strategy. For companies looking to target a number of different industries, a vertical strategy essentially serves as an editorial calendar on steroids. It allows you to map out which industries to target and when in order to spread the wealth across different business lines in conjunction with business goals and new business efforts.

One way to prioritize your vertical strategy is by need. Maybe retail is a well-established business line for your organization, but you’re looking to generate more visibility in healthcare, so prioritize healthcare as the first industry you target for media opportunities.

A hybrid approach is also an option. A tech client of mine wanted to generate visibility in new industries, but didn’t want to completely fade away from the areas where they were well known. So we devised a strategy to go after one up-and-coming industry and one well-established industry per quarter. This helped keep the client top-of-mind with current clients while generating exposure in new industries with potential clients.

You could also make your vertical targets timely. If there is a healthcare conference in Q4 that your organization wants to make a big splash at, make healthcare PR a priority in Q3 so you have some timely media coverage hitting in the weeks leading up to the conference. Attendees will see the coverage and have that name association top-of-mind when they see you at the event.

Create a Matrix of Trends and Events
Similar to the Vertical Strategy, look at timely events and trends that you can speak on. The Academy Awards happen around the same time every year, so a few weeks before the event, I begin pitching my client who can talk about celebrity protection and the considerations that go into large-scale event security for something like the high-profile awards ceremony. The Super Bowl, spring break, summer travel season, back to school and holiday shopping are all examples of events/trends that happen on a yearly basis that could produce excellent media visibility. Creating a matrix of these trends and events ahead of time will help you be more proactive and strategic with your media outreach efforts.

Juggling multiple media topics and subject matter experts can easily become a complex situation—one that can easily be time consuming and lead to missed opportunities. That’s why it’s important to be as strategic as possible with your media relations efforts, and these tips will help you get there.

Cover photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.