What makes Columbia University Law Professor John C. Coffee such a popular source for the financial media? He's an expert on securities regulations, of course, but he's also pithy, informed and available--a reporter's dream. Reporters are gathering information and writing or broadcasting news faster than ever to meet the demands of the 24/7 news cycle. Experts who can speed that process are more likely to be quoted. Here are a few pieces of advice for developing an effective relationship with a journalist--print or broadcast.
1) Reporters like to call people they know. The best time to develop rapport with reporters is before they have a reason to call you. Get acquainted at formal events such as conferences or over a "getting to know you" coffee. Take the initiative and call or email a reporter you admire with useful updates about your industry that will help them produce informed, smart pieces. Stay within your area of expertise. If you aren't familiar with a topic, tell the reporter and if possible, suggest another expert. 2) Craft the quotable quote. We can't all be Warren Buffett, but we can try. Beyond his brilliance as an investor, Buffett has a gift for making the complex sound simple. The New York Times and other newspapers select a "Quotation of the Day" because quotes express a level of understanding or wisdom from someone who has special knowledge. You have special knowledge about your investment strategy or an industry you're invested in. Think of an analogy or a metaphor today to describe it. Get in the habit of updating it. 3) Be prepared. If a reporter calls out of the blue, ask to call back so you can prepare. Take a few minutes to review your understanding of the topic. Give simple, direct answers (see Warren Buffett, above). Repeat your comments to underscore or emphasize what you think are your most salient points. Prevent MEGO--My Eyes Glaze Over--by avoiding jargon and acronyms. Few reporters have the time to deal with inside baseball. Be polite and professional. Tell the truth. // Mitch Ackles
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