20th Sep 2021 by Calum McCloskey

Poaching Eggsperts: The best experts to have as a PR agency

The best experts and spokespeople for PR agencies

A new study, conducted by me, looks at journalists’ most sought-after experts via ResponseSource’s media request service, and it’s good news if you know a psychologist.

If you work in public relations, then you will know the importance of having an array of different experts on hand; to answer journalist requests, respond to breaking news with insightful comments, or generally tell you that your idea for a campaign is illogical nonsense.

But have you ever stopped and wondered which experts are the most sought-after by journalists, and are therefore the biggest asset to your digital PR agency? No? Are you sure? Well, gather round and take a pew, because I’m going to tell you anyway.

I have been doing nothing for six months working extremely hard to pull together this data, letting more than six months’ worth of emails from Response Source and HARO marinate to form the research. From more than 7,500 messages, I have managed to determine once and for all the best expert to have as a PR agency, and the results will SHOCK* you.

*mildly surprise you, or even actually just confirm your suspicions.

Who is the best expert for your PR agency to have as a client?

From the extensive research laboriously pored over by myself, I can confirm that the experts that receive the most requests from journalists are… drum roll please… psychologists. Whether it be a quote on mindfulness, how to love yourself, or why Boris Johnson is such a [redacted], psychologists are the hot property of the PR world.

Out of the 7,700 journalist requests used as part of the research, psychologists accounted for 383 of these. While this may seem like a small percentage (5%, according to my spreadsheet), given there are 24 different categories and reams of requests (I saw one for a walrus expert once?) this is still a fairly impressive return. Indeed, this equates to an average of around three per week, so by my calculations if you manage to place your expert for a third of these requests, you will get one piece of coverage every seven days.

The next most-sought after expert – with 241 requests – is one that PRs probably already know are worth their weight in gold: doctors. If you have a client with a doctor on hand that is willing to comment on journalist requests … well, if you’d kindly supply me with their number and email address, that’d be great (I just wanna talk to them). The somewhat more generic ‘health expert’ came next (197 requests), so if you haven’t already pivoted your offering to include health clients by this stage in the blog, then there really is no helping you.

This next group of people aren’t technically experts per se, but qualified for the research according to my very loose set of non-existent rules, which I am making up as I go along. Business owners were requested for comment 183 times over the course of the research gathering, so if your client is a business and has an owner – rather than a sentient being – then you might just be in luck. Of course, getting them to sign off a comment about supply issues caused by Brexit or their take on the pandemic is another matter entirely.

An arguably surprise inclusion to the list comes next in the form of PR experts, totting up an impressive 170 journalist requests; if you don’t have one of these to comment on things, then I’m afraid I’ve got some bad news for you.

For anyone interested in the top 20 most sought-after experts in PR, I’ve compiled them in a handy little table below, featuring notable inclusions such as nutritionist (6th place), accountant (8th), lawyer (10th), relationship expert (13th) and personal trainer (14th).

Which sector contains the best experts for PR?

I’m glad you asked. As you might have gathered from the above analysis, journalists are most frequently requesting comments, advice and tips from experts in the health sector; of the nearly 8,000 requests made by journalists via ResponseSource in the last several months, 48% of these were flagged as pertaining to health (by the media request service itself). In case you are in a position where you are doubting my flawless research, we must bear in mind that ResponseSource emails can (and often do) fall into multiple categories.

It is for that reason that – lagging just behind health – experts in the home & garden sector are the second-most sought-after by journalists, pertaining to 46% of requests made in the specified time period; good news for your property, home & garden peeps.

Coming next in third, fourth and fifth place respectfully were business and finance (30%), men’s interest (24%) and women’s interest & beauty (22%). In the interest of fairness, travel also received 22% of journalists’ requests, but there were physically fewer than women’s interest & beauty.

Because logic dictates that single-letter terms would appear more often in a search of my emails, you might argue that there is a slightly unfair advantage to the likes of psychologists, doctors, nutritionists and the like, and you might be right.

To be as fair as possible to all the experts in the world, I also searched for single-term words that could pertain to other spokespeople, such as ‘HR’, ‘relationship’ and ‘personal finance’ (yes, I know this is two words – just roll with it).

From looking at this criterion, it became apparent that there were more references to ‘personal finance’ (575, to be precise) than any other term or phrase. However, much like a Royal statement over how much one can sweat, we can’t read too much into this; naturally, any journalist request containing the words ‘personal finance’ might not actually be asking for an expert on the subject, but it is a good indicator of what they’re asking about.

Other than personal finance, other words and terms that were seen popping up included ‘property’ (538 occasions), ‘HR’ (388), ‘relationship’ (334), ‘mental health’ (270) and ‘sex’ (238). So, if your expert isn’t included in the list above, but works in one of the fields that I’ve just mentioned, then there is no need to panic just yet.

‘Interior Design’ (234), ‘sleep’ (177), ‘garden’ (175), ‘cybersecurity’ (167), ‘parenting’ (114) and ‘cryptocurrency’ (112) also get honourable mentions.

So, there you have it, a definitive** list of experts and spokespeople that journalists are asking for input from the most, and therefore the kind of clients that you as a digital PR agency want to be associating with the most! Thanks for sticking with me, if you’re a fan of unsubstantiated claims passed as fact, then you can head over to my Twitter, or tune into PMQs.

**rough, likely to be disproved by ResponseSource itself.

METHODOLOGY

For transparency, our agency is signed up to 10 ResponseSource categories, but as every request spans several topics, we estimate that we receive the vast majority of journalist requests.

For seven months I funnelled all of the emails that we receive from Response Source (and HARO) asking for ‘spokesperson or expert’ into a separate folder, and from there moved a copy of each email into a given category, which is how I worked out the sought-after sectors.

Using Outlook’s advanced search function, I inputted terms for the most common experts (doctor, psychologist, personal trainer, etc.), to see how many times these were requested.

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