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NewsCertified’s Database of Expert Sources

Jim McManus, President and COO of NewsCertified

If there is one thing readers of this blog understand, it is that journalists are short on time, a crunch most of us feel here at the legwork end of news production with the distribution of source material and the scheduling and execution of interviews. I recently spoke with Jim McManus, President and Chief Operating Officer at NewsCertified, about their solution to this problem, a database of news-trained, interview-ready expert sources on offer for free to journalists working under tight deadlines.

NewsCertified rather instantly solves the most egregious problem of a frank lack of credible sources, providing rapid-searchable categories, with short bios and videos for every expert, by which journalists can make quick decisions about who would best serve their stories needs. These needs can get fairly sophisticated, and anyone working within a beat structure (ahem, yours truly), can understand how complicated they get. NewsCertified is very sensitive to this and has attempted to fit their organization to the diversities of news coverage.

“Even within categories, there is a dichotomy,” McManus said. “Do you want people who can speak broadly to medicine generally, or do you want a cardiac surgeon who can speak to the techniques in Latin America. The latter is perfect for one kind of story, but the former can speak to many stories. This is something we have balanced over time.”

While the search-based inquiries allow journalists some fairly specific queries, the videos provide them that other important component, personality.

“Sometimes bookers are looking for someone that is young and energetic,” McManus said, “sometimes they are looking for someone professorial. Well these are the kinds of things that don’t come out in a Google search.”

And these personalities are news-ready, having gone through NewsCertified’s short but robust training program, where they learn simple but pivotal things such as eye contact, speaking in sound bites, and how to prepare, all criteria the company has gathered from major broadcast outlets, including CNN, from which many of the founders come.

While the training is meant to provide journalists the best resources possible, it also gives experts a two-fold value, which McManus explained.

“They have the individual growth that comes out of going through a session like this, and being prepared to pitch their own expertise,” he said, “but then thereafter it’s the prestige of the brand for both the organization and the individual. Typically a news appearance can be a very career changing opportunity for people.”

With all these strengths for their product in place, NewsCertified has taken advantage of their small organizational size to act nimbly in integrating it across platforms, with a keen eye toward the future. They are developing a mobile app for both the database and to serve as a live connect function between experts and journalist, are looking to plug their data into other, similar services, and encourage experts to crosslink their NewsCertified page with their social media ones. NewsCertified’s focus on integration points them toward a complementary role with traditional public relations, where a campaign can be more balanced with push and pull sourcing.

“We would argue that what pull sourcing does is put the power with the journalist,” McManus said. “At any given moment, they have a need on short notice, they don’t want to have to worry about screening someone as being news ready or someone that’s going to be ready when they walk into the studio, and they can pull as necessary from NewsCertified. Now we would argue, too, that that doesn’t preclude the value of push as well, for other organizations. That is the kind of thing that engenders new ideas and creativity for journalists.”

As we are adapting to the many changes in communications and journalism, it appears NewsCertified is offering a solution that fits nicely within the dynamics we have come to call paid, earned and owned media. The immediate view, for a public relations team, is to use NewsCertified as a particularly accommodating point of contact supporting and supported by the press releases, inbound marketing, social media management and other practices that all work in tandem to provide a holistic campaign.

About Cision Staff

Cision's research staff makes over 20,000 media updates to Cision's Media Database each day! For more updates and other thought leadership in the industry, follow @Media_Moves.

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