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Top 7 Features Journalists Want in An Experts Directory

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As we build and run Expertise Finder we constantly talk to journalists. Plus being a former TV producer, they are comfortable giving me the straight goods.

Here is the heart of what we have learned the media wants in an Experts Directory:

1. Speed
2. Cell Number
3. Expert Contact Info
4. Contact for Media Relations/Communications
5. No In Between Person
6. Search On Any Device
7. Related Experts

1. Speed

Journalists need instant results or they go to Google. They want to know in seconds if it is worthwhile to spend more time looking on this directory. If it’s fast they will consider checking it as part of their workflow because the alternatives take time. Journalists prefer to start with something that can give them quick specific results.

Pro Tip: In addition to a must-have search bar, don’t underestimate the value of being able to search areas, for example, departments.

The goal is a result, that doesn’t mean that one click will lead to the final result. While our Expertise Finder cloud solution is built around search (uses natural language processing to relate areas of expertise) it includes intuitive categorization. Studies show that finding is about forward progress, users are fine with poking around but as soon as they hit a wall, you lose them.

2. Cell Number

When on a tight deadline, the #1 request of journalists is a cell phone number. If your directory has cell numbers available, even if not for all experts, journalists rank this Experts Directory ahead of Google.

Pro Tip: Require login to access cell phone numbers. This appeases experts who do not want their cell phone available across the web while still allowing for people you decide to have access. As cell phones are such a commodity, journalists will be willing to request access. However, this is not the case for other profile information. Logins is an Expertise Finder feature.

3. Expert Contact Info

Journalists want to send an email right away. The goal is to determine if there is potential, i.e. an expert is available, otherwise they move on because they are working against the clock.

Pro Tip: While cell phone numbers are nice to have, email is enough. Don’t wait to get the perfect profile, there is value in limited profiles. Journalists want to be the judge.

4. Contact for Media Relations/Communications

Journalists want the email and phone number of the person who can connect them with an expert. It needs to be easy to find, or else the journalist will give up and continue with their alternatives.

Pro Tip: Post an after hours number; journalists don’t work 9-5. But the more information you have on the directory the less an after hours phone numbers is required without losing media attention.

Pro Tip: Have the contact info for your contacts on every page. Expertise Finder Expert Directories allows you to close the media contact(s) and displays them on every page.

5. No In Between Person

Most journalists prefer searching through a good Experts Directory first before contacting media relations. If the directory is promising, journalists are happy to contact relations/communications. Until this point, they are more likely to go to other sources first and only circle back as needed.

Some journalists have said that reasons they avoid initially contacting media relations/communications is because emails are not being answered quickly or the person they worked with previously no longer is at the institution.

Pro Tip: The journalists searching the guests are increasingly from the ‘net generation’. Worthing through someone or picking up the phone is not the default.

6. Search On Any Device

One journalist put it well: “When I’m in a bind I need to look quickly on my phone”. Whether on the road or in the studio they want native access.

At Expertise Finder 21% of all searches are via phone and tablet, and this grows every year.

Pro Tip: Create a micro site to launch an Experts Directory with fully responsive pages that work across devices. This way you are not required to integrate with all the legacy parts of your site. All Expertise Finder pages are optimized for mobile and tablet.

7. Related Experts

A journalist is rarely a subject matter expert, and so they want help uncovering the right expert.

Questions

Reach out stavros@expertisefinder.com or take a look at our site expertisefinder.com.