Democratising access to PR

In seeing #WomeninBlockchain succeed and attract more women into the space, visibility is key. You’ll hear me say many times that “you can’t be what you can’t see” and we need to see more women in leadership roles. This is not to say they don’t exist, because of course they do, the problem is they’re not visible enough.

So when I came across Yuilya and the advice she could share to help women get access to a bigger platform for their voice, I wanted to have her wisdom shared with all of you.

Yuliya Belyayeva

Yuliya ran media, crisis, and public affairs campaigns at Edelman, interacted with the press during Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign and Inauguration, and was the Head of Marketing of an acquired fintech start-up.

There is a big gender and diversity gap among sources quoted in the news. The stats in the US show a 3:1 male to female ratio and only 25% of sources are non-white. We can surely do better.

To change that and to democratise access to PR, Yuliya wanted to share a few lessons to use to vocalise the power and value of your expertise to create a thought leadership platform and be included in the news.

1) Understand the news cycle

To set the scene: the media landscape has changed a lot over the last decade. Consumers have switched to digital and social media to get their news, publications have laid off staff, and reporters are under tighter deadlines, covering additional beats (ie. subjects) and writing more articles than ever before.

What that means for you, as a news source, is that we need to know how to make your expertise presentable and relevant to the news cycle. Each interview for reporters comes with an opportunity cost, so the more obviously you can tie in your background to their beat, the better.

So for any reporter outreach, think about what your hook is: Can you comment on a developing news story (ie. you’re a conservation expert who can comment for the UN General Assembly)? Or, in more passive engagement, would you like to introduce and pitch yourself as an expert for any upcoming stories?

2) Think and talk like a reporter

Although reporters have different preferences around the best time and method to pitch them (email vs. Twitter DMs), they all agree that it should be short. Don’t use buzzwords, don’t ask for permission to send them a media kit or relevant docs (just attach it!), and don’t be overly formal.

A good template for outreach is a LinkedIn bio, so present how your background would be helpful to their future coverage in 3-4 sentences. Include links to your LinkedIn, Medium, or Twitter, and any previous relevant media coverage.

3) Use your expertise to establish a thought leadership platform

One of the source application questions on Peer is “What makes you news-worthy?” Since we launched, I’ve had a number of women ask for advice answering that question — and I get it. It can be easy to praise another woman’s accomplishments, but it can be a struggle to talk about our own wins.

My trick is: if you had to write a Medium post — what would you say? This can come from your background (graduating from a non-target school and making partner), work experience (ie. five years in cybersecurity) or just be a big part of your life (ie. double duty as a female founder and mother).

I also encourage you to go and write that Medium article to start building up a portfolio of pieces for your thought leadership platform as this will improve your chances for an interview and other public engagements, such as panels and conference appearances.

If you are a founder, these pieces may fold under your general content and marketing strategy. If not and you’re focusing on your current work, coordinate with whoever is responsible for external communication to make sure the messaging is aligned.

4) Engaging in the interview

After you’ve successfully pitched and gotten an interview, the reporter may send you a general sense of what the conversation will be about ahead of time.

Create three core messaging bullets that you want to relay, and stick to them. These points can be general trend forecasting, comments on a breaking story, how your company is solving for it, or background information to help a reporter have a better grasp on the subject.

Reporters are looking for concise, clear commentary, so it doesn’t benefit you to meander. Journalists build up a list of go-to sources, so the more meaningful your insights are, the higher the chance that you will become a trusted source.

Mastering interviews is an art, but for the sake of brevity of this article, the media training portion has been bypassed. If you’d like to learn more, Yuliya is happy to answer any inquiries.

Feel free to drop your questions in the comments or reach out directly to [email protected]