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The Art of Talking Heads

Expert sources have always played an important role in the media, providing the knowledge and insight necessary to inform and address all angles of a story.

But what is it that defines an expert or thought leader in the media’s eyes and what do they want most from them?

The 2016 BBS Media Survey reached out to journalists across the country to answer these questions.

Here are five of the key findings from the survey, encapsulating the feedback from more than 50 journalists from Australian radio, print, online and television media.

1. Good experts are in high demand

Journalists include expert sources more often than not in their work.  On average, journalists use expert commentary in 54% of their stories.   However, for some the figure is much higher, with 46% of respondents using expert commentary in 70% or more of their stories.

2. Media’s first point of call is their own network

Established networks are the number one way media locate expert sources. A staggering 84% of journalists said they often or always used their own contacts to locate an appropriate expert source. These contacts include their colleagues, industry and PR contacts, or experts they’ve worked with in the past.  Journalists said they also used university directories, Google searches and organisation websites to find suitable experts, but rarely social media.

3. The essential ingredients to the ultimate expert: knowledgeable, qualified, articulate

The top three qualities of a good expert, according to our surveyed journalists, were knowledgeable, credentialed /qualified and the ability to speak simply.

4. Experts need to talk hard facts and figures and add perspective

When asked for the number one reason they used experts in their stories, almost 45% of journalists said it was to add established facts and figures, particularly in a matter that made them digestible for their audience.

Significantly, another 35% said their primary motive was to add a third-party perspective to their stories.

5. The best experts – Act quickly. Speak simply.

When asked to nominate the top three ways experts can be better talent, 67% of journalists selected ‘be more responsive and available’.
Translating complex matters into simple grabs was another ability equally favoured by our surveyed journalists.

Contact us today for a copy of the full report.