New Podcast Episode: Expert Commentary as a Thought Leader with Chris Baker

What is expert commentary and how does it help authors?

Expert commentary is pretty much exactly what it sounds like. We’re positioning the author as an expert in whatever field it is that they find themselves an expert in—whether that’s AI, climate change, etc. Reporters will reach out, looking for experts to help flesh out their stories with quick little blurbs that they can insert. Then hopefully, the author gets some good links to put back on their website and social platforms. There are a few different ways that authors can leverage these types of opportunities: 

It helps to establish credibility for yourself as an expert in your field. It also helps to build a reputation with the reporter. So let’s say, for instance, they end up not using your commentary. They might still come back to you for future stories as long as you can provide them some good comments in a timely manner. So it doesn’t hurt to take up as many of those opportunities as you can, even if it takes a little bit of back and forth to get those runs. Smith Publicity's all things book marketing podcast expert commentary as a thought leader open book with chris baker

It’s also a good way to plug the book. In an ideal world, we’d get a good mention of the book and a hyperlink back to your retailer of choice. It doesn’t always happen, but sometimes they can at least just get their name into the article with a link to their website. All of those are useful for the author to get SEO for their website to the book listing. 

Another thing that’s worth noting is that it’s difficult to get the traditional book review in some of the bigger name outlets. Expert commentary is a good way to bridge the gap and get into some of these bigger names—even if it’s just a quick couple of sentences, it can still be leveraged by putting it on your website, “Featured in the New York Times,  Forbes…” you name it. 

Lastly, due to the timely nature of it, you can get the link to the story fairly quickly. If they’re on a deadline, “I need two sentences from this person. The story needs to go live tomorrow,” you can get that link right away and put it on your website. 

What is the typical turnaround for expert commentary?

It’s a quick turnaround on both fronts—quick turnaround for the author, but it’s also quick turnaround for the journalist. Time is your biggest enemy, but if you have the time even to just put a quick little something together, it helps again because the reporter can loop back in the future. I’ll say often also that if we miss the deadline or the commentary doesn’t get used, we can always repurpose the content into a pitch, into an article, something like that, so it won’t go to waste.

It’s good to have some commentary written in advance on topics that you’re most likely to talk about. You never know what journalists are going to be looking for randomly, but if there’s a timely hook to your book already, you should enter your publicity campaign thinking about what you want to be discussing in the news, monitoring for stories that you want to comment on, and engaging with the reporters that are in your field.

What makes for an ideal comment that is more likely to be picked up for a story?

Obviously, timeliness is going to be key. Make sure you meet the deadlines. Sometimes it’s not possible, but I have had instances where I’ve turned it in past the requested deadline and it still makes the cut. A lot of times, they can still go in and edit the stories afterwards, especially if it’s a really good quote. Being prompt is important, but it’s not the end all, be all.

Be as thorough as you can in your answers. Sometimes it’s just a couple of questions, sometimes they’ve got a whole list, but answer as much as you can. Don’t go outside of your comfort zone and try to ask ChatGPT for help at the same time. Also, bear in mind they’re most likely going to trim your answers down a little bit so you can be concise because they’re only going to pick a few bits of what you say anyways. There is no reason to write an entire article—that is a topic for another day. I like to tell people bullet points are usually a good way to go. There’s no reason to fluff it out with excess language that’s probably going to get edited out anyways. Three to five bullet points will be way more beneficial than a three-to-five-page essay for commentary purposes.

What are ways for authors to leverage expert commentary?

Make sure you’ve got a media page on your website. Pull the logos for the outlets that you’re in because that’s really eye catching, and make sure you hyperlink to the stories. Sharing it on social media is also very important. Tag the outlet and the reporter to encourage them to reshare it. In your social posts, flesh out all the thoughts that you had that might not have made it into the piece. Make it a little bit more self-promotional and tie it back to the book.

What are some resources to help thought leaders find those expert commentary opportunities?

There are a number of websites that we use which authors can sign up for too: ProfNet, HARO, Qwoted. These are all services that aggregate a list of incoming queries from reporters divided by topic. Your Smith Publicity publicist will be keeping a close eye on these resources for you, but if you happen to spot something, don’t be afraid to send it their way.

The All Things Book Marketing podcast is a popular biweekly show featuring book marketing and publicity tips from the top voices in the publishing industry. Be sure to subscribe so you never miss a new episode!

Chris Baker is a publicity and marketing professional based in the Washington, DC metropolitan area who joined Smith Publicity in 2021 and specializes in business and nonfiction titles. Prior to joining Smith, Chris worked for 3 years as the Director of Marketing at Mascot Books, an independent publisher in Herndon, VA. He has extensive experience in managing author campaigns, creating press materials, and pitching successfully to the media, garnering coverage with top national and regional outlets. He has secured placements for clients at publications including: The New York Times, Fast Company, Fortune, Forbes, Axios, NPR, CNBC, CNN, and Reader’s Digest. Chris graduated from George Mason University with a Bachelor’s in English.