Everyone is an expert on something. Are you an expert on something? Do journalists and bloggers know about your expertise? I’ve recently written about how journalists and bloggers find expert sources for stories, but this post is focused on how you can better position and present yourself as an expert. If you’re an expert that is interested in being a regular source for the media, you’d be well-served to create an expert profile.
What’s an Expert Profile?
There is no one correct answer to this question. From my perspective, it’s a personal online press room. While a traditional online press room has all the information a journalist or blogger might want to know about your company, an expert profile should have all the information a journalist or blogger might want to know about you. How often has somebody asked for your bio, or asked you to provide more information on yourself as background? Having a pre-populated site with all this information available can save you a lot of time, and help you stand apart from other experts in the market.
Why You Need an Expert Profile
Journalists and bloggers use search engines more than any other source when researching expert sources and company information. In addition to search engines, many journalists turn to blogs, social media, and social networking sites to find experts. We’ll briefly touch on all of these in this post.
A Note On SEO
We’ll assume you know a little about search engine optimization or SEO already. If you don’t, consider finding an expert in your area who can help you determine the ideal keywords and best practices for optimizing your online profile. If you’re an expert in “social media”, you’ll probably want to go beyond that general term. For example, you may want to position yourself as an “Atlanta expert in social media for non-profits” rather than an “expert in social media.” It’s better to be well-positioned for a multi-word search term than to be buried in search results for a generic one.
Creating Your Expert Profile
The purpose of your online expert profile is to create a standalone website with as much relevant information as possible on you and your expertise. There are several options you have for where to put this information:
- Build out the “about” page on your blog. If you’re already using a blogging solution like WordPress or Blogger, this is the easiest route to go.
- Create a website dedicated to your profile. If you own your name as a domain name, this is ideal. If you can afford it, consider having a Web designer create this site for you. Another alternative would be to use a do-it-yourself website creation tool – Squarespace is an excellent option for this.
- If you’re a true expert, with lots of references to published works and other third-party information on you, your best bet may be to create a Wikipedia page about you. If you follow Wikipedia’s guidelines, and provide factual information about yourself (free of opinion or plugs for your products or services), you can get your very own Wikipedia page. It’s up to you to research how this is done. A good example of how this is done would be Brian Solis’ Wikipedia page.
What to Include in Your Profile
Your online profile should include as much as possible about you as a professional and an expert. Here are a few things you may want to include in your profile:
- Organizations – where do you work? What is your job? How is this related to your expertise?
- Professional Bio – include both an abstract and complete bio on you as a professional. Just as you would for a conference you were speaking at, include all your expertise.
- Topics of Interest – what topics do you know the most about? What issues are you particularly interested in? This is your chance to isolate a few topics that you are the best person to talk to about. This also provides some possible story suggestions for journalists who may find your profile.
- Affiliations – what professional associations do you belong to? What community or civic organizations are you actively involved with? Is there a particular charity that is close to your heart?
- Images – include photos of yourself, along with relevant images related to your expertise. This helps put a face with the name, but also provides content that can be used by journalists and bloggers in the stories they write.
- Education – where did you go to school? What degrees have you earned? Are there any post-graduate certifications or professional distinctions you’ve earned?
- Awards & Recognition – have you won any awards or merits for the work you’ve done? Were you named to a “40 Under 40″ list or “Top 100 People” in your industry? Include this information in your bio.
- Presentations – are there presentations you’ve given that you’re willing to share? Use a solution like SlideShare to share these presentations. These can be a great tool for communicating your depth of knowledge on a subject. If you don’t have a presentation, consider creating one for this purpose.
- Contact Info – how can people reach you? Include as many options as possible to make it easy for people to reach you in their preferred medium.
- Personal Bio – this is optional, but personal bio information can be valuable in positioning you as an interesting source. Are you married with children? Are you from an interesting hometown? Did you learn your trade in a family business or overcome adversity to get where you are today? What interesting or unique hobbies do you have? This information is often more memorable than your professional expertise, and could help you stand out in the crowd of sources in your industry.
- Published Works – have you written a book? Can you provide links to articles you’ve written? Do you blog on a regular basis? If so, make it easy for journalists to find this information. Consider uploading this content to other online sources to increase the number of places people can find you.
- Video – if you’re interested in participating in on-air interviews, videos of you speaking at events – or being interviewed by the media – can go a long way at getting journalists to consider you as a source.
- Media Experience – you may provide this information in other areas, but be sure to indicate your experience as a source. Some journalists want raw sources with no media training. Others want polished spokespeople on a subject. Don’t leave it to the journalist to figure this out in your interview, let them know up front who they’re dealing with.
- Links to More Information – include links to your other bios, social networking sites, blogs, etc. in your bio. This online profile should be the launching off point to all the other information you have on the Web. Include references to any other Web-based information you can on yourself.
- Job Search Sites – many job search sites include an opportunity for you to create detailed profiles on your expertise. Jobster for example enables you to create profiles that are very search engine friendly. My Jobster profile shows up in a bunch of related searches for my expertise. While I’m not looking for a job, I regularly drive traffic to my profiles from this site each month.
How to Use Your Profile
Regardless of how well-optimized your online content is, start using your profile in all your communications. Consider providing a link to your online profile in your email signature. Link to your profile from the social networking sites you use. When pitching a journalist or blogger, rather than including a description of your expertise in the pitch, just include a link for more information. This will enable you to keep your initial pitch brief while providing the journalist with all the information she’ll need if considering you as a source.
Your profile can also be a valuable tool to provide to any public relations professionals helping you to solicit media interest. Rather than having them spend time on creating this information, have it available for them on day one – so they can get to work lining up interviews for you.
Other Options for Being Found
As we mentioned in the opening paragraph, journalists and bloggers also search blogs, social media, and social networks to find experts. If you’re not already blogging, consider starting a blog to talk about areas of interest related to your expertise. Even if you’re never interviewed for a story, your blog will help you build an audience around your area of expertise – which is what this is all about, to begin with.
Along the same grain, take advantage of the features and benefits provided through LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and various other sites on the Web. You don’t need to use all of them, but the more you do use, the better your chances of being found by those looking for experts like you.
Here are some considerations for some of these tools:
- LinkedIn – LinkedIn is the business social network. While often considered the playground of salespeople and recruiters, it can also be a powerful tool for establishing your expertise with the media. Make sure your profile is complete on LinkedIn. Provide as much information as possible about your expertise on a particular subject, and your experience in your industry. If you have professional affiliations, choose to display them on your profile. Respond to questions related to your expertise on LinkedIn Answers, to give journalists and bloggers an idea of the types of responses you’ll provide. Updating your status on a regular basis is a good idea as well, since it draws attention to the types of things you’re working on. Finally, join LinkedIn Groups related to your area of expertise. Journalists are often members of the same groups.
- Twitter – Twitter is a real-time opportunity for you to share your expertise. Consider following journalists and bloggers that regularly cover topics related to your expertise. Respond to questions they have, regularly positioning yourself as a resource they can use when writing stories. As more and more Twitter-related tools crop up, it’s more important than ever that your profile information include keywords related to your area of expertise – so others can find you if they’re interested in the topics you’re interested in. Consider listing yourself in Twitter directories such as WeFollow and Twellow to position yourself as an expert and help those with similar interests find you.
- Facebook – while Facebook is not a preferred channel for all journalists to find experts, there are many journalists that use the service. If you include descriptive information about your areas of expertise in Facebook, there’s a good chance people looking for experts will be able to find you through this channel.
- MySpace – depending on your expertise, MySpace might be a good outlet for you. Many journalists admit to having MySpace pages, though this channel is probably best suited for more entertainment-related experts (authors, musicians, performers, etc.). Like the other options mentioned, take advantage of all the profile creation options.
The Web is the number one source of information journalists and bloggers use to find expert sources. The more information you include on the Web, the easier it will be for you to position yourself as an expert and to help journalists find you when they need you.