From Edelman to Bridgewater, insights on how to build a media presence for your thought leadership platformFeatured

Hi fellow Elphas! I’m Yuliya, and I’m the founder of Peer, a marketplace that makes the news more inclusive by connecting the press and news sources through merit-based matchmaking. I 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.One of the reasons I started Peer is because of the big gender and diversity gap among sources quoted in the news. There’s 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 democratize access to PR, I wanted to share a few lessons for Elphas to use to vocalize the power and value of their 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. Jordan Sale’s earlier post nicely summed up the ease and ability 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 (or a post on Elpha, for that matter) -- 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, I’ll bypass the media training portion. If you’d like to learn more, happy to answer any inquiries.Feel free to drop your questions in the comments or reach out directly here or [email protected]. I have kicked off office hours so reach out if you'd like to chat. We’d love to welcome Elphas to join Peer as sources and be in automatic consideration for press opportunities that are most relevant to your backgrounds. Yuliya is the founder of Peer, a marketplace making the news more inclusive by connecting sources and reporters based on merit. She was previously the Head of Marketing at Logos (acquired by Ripple) and focused on operations at the Tech Strategy and Incubation department at Bridgewater Associates. Prior to that, while at Edelman, Yuliya was a Press Assistant at Strategic Media Counsel team and managed crisis, public affairs and corporate affairs accounts. She has started her career working running a satellite office as a Deputy Field Organizer on the Obama 2012 campaign in Florida and Vice President Biden's communications team in Washington, D.C.
Thank you so much for sharing these tips Yuliya! I'm curious, if you're trying to be part of the news cycle and trying to put content out there, do you think this is a difficult thing to balance with also trying to maintain healthy personal habits around things like the news/twitter/social media etc? I've thought about writing more and trying to have some public presence but I always back away because I'm worried about getting "sucked in" too much if that makes sense.
Great question, and definitely makes sense, Sandra! This is why there are entire content and social media teams writing, promoting, engaging. My advice: focus. Choose a core 1-2 topics on which you'd like to stand out and build your thought leadership platform around it. Use a developing story as a news hook or an evergreen (ie. trends in X space) or cyclical (ie. retail and cybersecurity around the holidays) story to get one piece of content out there. Throw it on your LI and Twitter. Rinse and repeat on a comfortable basis. The point is to get a digital presence out there so that you're on the press' or conference coordinator's radar when the time comes. That can be done with 2-3 super solid pieces. Because let's face it - there's only one Gary Vaynerchuk out there.
Thank you, this seems like really manageable advice!!
Hey Yuliya, great recap. Thanks for sharing. Love the platform you are creating and will reach out to connect and learn more. I would add that having a clear professional brand and point of view can help you become known as a "go to" source for the media. Aligning your thought leadership and content calendar can help. Try to have a unique perspective and be accessible- both available and responsive.
⬆️Great, great advice. Much of media training is centered around how to be clear on your messaging and delivery. Also, ed calendars are a must, esp for emerging companies or start-ups. Thank you, Lenore! Look forward to connecting.
Hi Yuliya! Thanks so much for your insights here. Quick question - any advice on the frequency of Medium posts? Weekly, monthly, quarterly? I know it all depends on free time, but curious if you had any additional thoughts on the matter.One other thing that I'm trying to do as well:In addition to writing my own pieces (which can be time consuming and hard to stay consistent with), I've also started posting articles I find interesting on my Linkedin with a brief commentary (a few sentences) and a question or two to try to start a conversation with my network. Even if I'm just sharing content, my hope is that it shows what I'm actively reading and thinking about, which can perhaps help others have the perception that I'm an "expert." Thanks again Yuliya!
Hi Laura, thanks for your question!It really depends on your time, and quality > quantity. I'd say for personal thought leadership platform, quarterly can be plenty, but for a start-up or emerging business, a monthly check-in will go far in establishing stakeholder trust and legitimacy, esp for regulated industries, like fintech, blockchain, heathcare. In that case, getting prominent advisors to by-line these pieces are a nice addition. The quick commentary approach is awesome as it's a small lift with a big return if you do it regularly enough and while sticking to a core theme around the expertise you want to showcase publicly. LI and Twitter are both good platforms for this.
This is a great post, would you be happy to share it on my blog as a guest piece? I'm supporting women in blockchain and one of the areas is in raising the visibility of the leaders we have. You can't be what you can't see, and it's known there aren't enough female role models (and that's lack of visibility not talent). So this speaks to my core. It would be great to connect my community to Peer for those you can most help - eg are you US focused?
Thank you so much, and I'm right there with you. I spent around a year in fintech/blockchain and it's definitely a sore point when conference panels are not representative of boots-on-the-ground experts. Absolutely ok to share on your blog and within your community! Happy to be helpful in changing the optics on this, together. Our user base is generally in the US, but we are geography agnostic as we didn't want to exclude experts coming from other continents.
Thoughtful, easy to follow summary - thank you. Curious to learn whether geography plays a role in the relative success of the strategies you've presented. For example, I am an expert in personalized medicine and associated data privacy issues. Aa a Canadian CEO of a software company that also does business in Scandinavia, the commercial and data privacy paradigm in my world significantly differ from the American ones. At the same time US media is bigger and has broader reach. Do you think highlighting a non-US perspective is a worth while pursuit?
Hi Veronika - that's a great question. Even though it's a specialized, nuanced industry, the juice is still worth the squeeze - but I'd recommend focusing any media outreach on the news hook, ie any relevant stories where you think you could make a meaningful contribution with your insights. See which market/outlets are writing that coverage the most and have them on your radar. Pairing this with your own thought leadership pieces on Medium or LI should bump you up the expert status for anyone who is looking for commentary. Any justified, but contrarian views (ie. "Why the US should look to Canada for personalized med data privacy") work well here.
Yuliya,Thank you for your FANTASTIC insightful lessons on how "to use to vocalize the power and value of ... expertise to create a thought leadership platform and be included in the news". I consult/mentor professionals about online branding and am always looking for tips directly from the media on the best way to pitch in an authentic way and share their stories in an engaging way. This article is something every business person should read and take notes - because all businesses and professionals need to build thought leadership brands. And earned media is still the most powerful way to tell your story!
Well this comment is making my parent's refrigerator door.Thank you, Beth! Very happy to help and pass it forward, as this is a skill that's once learned can be applied to a number of situations, from developing an elevator pitch to talking in a conference.
@yuliyabelyayeva just signed up, thank you!
Fantastic - welcome and happy to have you!