Learning to recognize your expertise, especially as a woman

Editor’s Note: At Scoop.it, we are equal opportunity and support learning and  entrepreneurism of all stripes. This article is written with a female audience in mind, but we believe the core messages and takeaways apply to all people. 

Women start businesses at one-and-a-half times the national average. And, although women now comprise roughly half of American workers and earn nearly 60% of university degrees,1 only 24% of the people heard or read about in print, radio and television news are female.

Only 19% of sources quoted on front page NYT stories are women

What gives? I have found that on average, women have difficulty viewing themselves as experts. In fact, when I’ve asked a room full of women executives to raise their hands if they are an expert, I get maybe 30 percent (usually less). I’ve correlated this lack of “expert acknowledgement” with one of the major reasons why more women aren’t sourced in the media.

The first step is learning to view yourself as an expert. Make a list of all things you know about. Here’s a quick checklist to help you determine if you’re an expert at “something”:

  • You studied it in college
  • It’s in your job title or description
  • You spend more than 30 percent of your day focused on it
  • You’re a walking Wikipedia entry
  • You eat, breathe and sleep everything related to it

After acknowledging your expertise you should:

  • Create your 30 second (or 15-second Instagram Video) soundbite. Have supporting statements around that to back it up.
  • Think of yourself as a news producer. Have an updated headshot. Have multimedia content that can be used to make the story more robust.
  • Be familiar with all of the platforms. Web, social, TV, print — all very different. Befriend someone who’s in PR. If you can’t afford a PR firm, ask a PR friend to help you get media-ready.
  • ABP. Always be pitching. Make sure local, national and beat reporters know who you are. Reach out to them as a go-to resource when story opportunities arise.

Here are six ways to use traditional and social media to identify story opportunities:

1) Create a media list. Cover three categories: traditional media, bloggers, online influencers. List is about quality not quantity. Build the list — it takes time. Who would you likely pitch? Who covers what you do? Organize it and get to know the work of the people you’re targeting. Aim for 20 people in each of the 3 categories.

2) Leave a digital trail. You have to be searchable and findable online. Journalists have expanded the way they find sources and many times it’s online. That’s a great reason to be active in social media or to write a blog. (It’s NOT just about sending out a press release.)

3) Produce interesting content. Centralize it on a Tumblr, blog or website. The more my clients blog, the more they see media interest in their stories. Create an editorial calendar for your own content around holidays, topics, news events, anniversaries, etc. You’re creating this content to build your expertise — and then you must share it through social media. People love LISTS, so create some content in list form.

4) Before pitching the media, find out if your story is newsworthy. Ask yourself some key questions. Is it new? Is it timely? If the event is tomorrow, you should have pitched it a week ago. Who will the story impact? Local, national? Is it unique? Is there a trend? Trend stories are huge.

5) Don’t let stories die. Use links in your email signature. Put the links in other stuff you do so the stories have a long shelf life.

6) Connect with organizations reporters often reach out to for expert sources, like: Chamber of Commerce Speaker’s Bureaus Colleges and universities.

Sarah Evans is a social and digital correspondent and the founder of Faves + Co, a lifestyle media source for geeky favorites. Follow her on Twitter at @prsarahevans.