The new era of experts
Fake news isn’t all bad. According to a research by Kantar, the barrage of fake news has increased confidence in traditional media.
As a result users have become increasingly demanding when it comes to information we consume: we look for different versions, we go to “fact checking” sites and think ahead we share information. We also ask the media to provide credible and verifiable sources, preferably real experts and not those who claim to know everything.
But where should we go to find good experts who bring credibility to a story?
An expert is just a click away
Once upon a time, experts could be found at universities, in large companies or consulting firms, and it was not always an easy process to get hold of them. In addition, many have never had any media training nor experience so having them sum up a complicated topic in 30 seconds was not always guaranteed to end well.
Things began to change in 2008 with the appearance of Help a Reporter Out, better known as HARO. In the beginning, it was a Facebook group in which journalists used to ask users to help them get information. But it soon evolved into a platform that aims to connect experts and journalists, which currently belongs to the CISION group. Nowadays, it is a comprehensive portal with more than 800.000 sources and 55.000 registered journalists.
So how does a site like this work? Experts register and can consult and answer the questions posed by journalists who use the platform; then journalists choose the answers they liked best to use in their content and quote the experts. In this way, experts can grow their media presence and journalists do not have to waste time trying to find the right expert. And where does the money come from? These portals are free for journalists, but experts can only access a limited number of opportunities. Si if they want full access, they are supposed to pay.
The phenomenon has been so successful that other platforms have emerged both in English (Pitchrate, PR Hunters) and in Spanish, such as YouCheck, for example. This recently created portal has been baptized as the “Tinder for journalists” and is used by media such as El País, La Vanguardia or Xataka.
What do we think about these platforms?
Although columnists from media such as Forbes think of these services as a nightmare for PR agencies, in Canela PR we think that expert platforms are an interesting tool with a huge potential. That is why we have chosen them as one of the PR trends to keep in mind this year.
So, as communication professionals, what is that we like and don´t like about expert portals?
We like them because they…
1. Facilitate access to experts to strengthen the credibility of the contents.
2. Simplify journalists’ work, who increasingly do more with less resources.
3. Expand access to sources to other communicators, such as bloggers.
4. Offer experts a way to enhance their personal brand on the Internet.
5. In PR Agencies we can also use them to find new opportunities for our clients’ spokespeople and achieve more media impacts.
We don´t like them because…
1. Platforms should verify that the users who sign up are really experts in their field and not simply people looking for notoriety.
2. For many experts it may be frustrating that from all the answers they provide just some actually end up being published.
3. Sometimes rules on how to quote the experts who collaborate are not very clear (for example, whether a link to their website or social media profiles should be included).
4. If not used properly, this type of platforms can end up becoming another SEO trick for link building and getting mentions and links in the media.
5. These platforms should incorporate fact-checking tools to verify the claims and data offered by experts.