In an age of the 24-hour news cycle, there is always breaking news. Hot headlines right now include the upcoming Sochi Olympic Games and the nearby terrorism in Russia, the polar vortex wreaking havoc over a good part of the U.S., the Target security breach (which continues to have long-term ramifications), the sudden death of Philip Seymour Hoffman, and of course the perennial favorite, pop-culture stuff like anything Kardashian.
But what can you do if you've got something to say about a breaking news story? You must take action. First, join the conversation if the issue is on your topic or within your area of expertise. You'll find discussion on social media, considerable television coverage and plenty of cable talk show debates. Here's how you can make sure you've got everything prepared when that big story breaks:
- Publish a blog post: Your blog is the perfect place to offer your opinion on the subject or offer a solution. Think of your blog as your home base - make sure your opinion and expertise are front and center for anyone who visits your site, and this includes the media. Your blog post could be great background material if you're interviewed.
- Get on Twitter: If there's breaking news, you're going to find it on Twitter. Search for the hashtag (or hashtags) used for the topic (check trending topics on Twitter before you search) and jump right in. You can even offer a link to your blog post as part of the conversation. It's a great way to showcase your expertise and drive people - including the media - to your site. Remember that the media is on Twitter and they just might find you!
- Join the discussion on social media: Once you have identified the proper hashtag(s) for your topic, do a search on social media sites. Google Plus is a good one because the search function is pretty easy there. Search and comment/participate in the discussion. This will help you gain more visibility, too.
- Add your comments to other blogs: Whether you have a blog or not, you can also join the discussion on other, high-traffic blogs. Share your viewpoint. You just never know, your blog post could get picked up, and you also may send more traffic to your site.
- Make your blog post viral: After you blog about the topic be sure to share your blog post link on all of your social networks. To make sure it's seen, add the hashtag(s) associated with the issue to ensure that people following that topic can find your post.
- Contact your local media: Local media loves having a local angle to a national story. For example, can you offer tips for travelers afraid to attend the Winter Olympics, or offer strategies for consumers to protect themselves from identity theft? That kind of expertise is in great demand when big stories break and the media scramble for sources to interview.
- Pitch national media: Can you offer a unique spin on a national story? If so, don't hesitate to start pitching. Just understand that it's competitive out there so you'll need to offer a new angle along with a captivating subject line to make your pitch stand out.
- Subscribe to HARO, http://www.helpareporter.com/: HARO is a free e-newsletter full of leads from media seeking sources. When there's an important story, there will be a media person on HARO searching for an expert to quote.
- Think long-term: People love predictions so the more you can focus long-term on the issues, the better. How will this topic affect us or your target market a month or a year down the road? This could be another interesting spin on an existing story.
- Sign up for media alerts: Add your keywords to Talkwalker.com or Mention.net so you know who's saying what about your topic. This is also a good way to see who covers your topic so you can get to know them. Then, when there's breaking news, you'll already know who to contact, and better yet, they'll know you.
Now you know how those "experts" show up in the media. It's about identifying your expertise, developing talking points, and being ready to get yourself out there when there's a big news story. The next time you see a hot news story, start pitching. You just might be the go-to source everyone quotes for that story!