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Janet Roberts

The Benefits of Being an Expert Witness
By Janet Roberts

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One sure way to build subscriptions is to promote yourself and your newsletter everywhere you go, offline as well as online. Done correctly, the benefits go two ways: You pick up more subscriptions when interested people seek you out, and you get called on to share your expert opinions in other media.

Here's one example:

I was reading a story in USA TODAY online about business-travel magazines last week when a familiar name popped up: Chris McGinnis, who publishes THE TICKET, an excellent business-travel email newsletter for Atlanta-based air travelers (and others). I had reviewed his newsletter, and he was featured in Ezine-Tips when he wrote in about a problem with List Builder.

First, I read his quotes, then I searched for the URL to his Web site or subscription instructions. Publishing either one of those is standard procedure here in Ezine-Tips, one that I thought the online version of USA TODAY would incorporate, especially given its high profile among business travelers.

Alas, nothing. The story didn't offer anything that wasn't included in the print version. Still, I sent Chris a fan letter about seeing his name and asking some snoopy questions about how he happened to be featured.

Chris replied: "The USA Today article was a great hit, but as you noticed, there was no link or Web address, so it only resulted in about 15-20 new subs. However, I got a lot of attention from friends and colleagues who read it! I've known Donna Rosato (the writer) for years. She was a staffer at USA TODAY back when THE TICKET was paper, and she got a comp (free) copy, and has always been a fan, so when she got the assignment, she called, we chatted, and look what happened!"

Lesson One: When a reporter calls, take the time to talk.

How do you get reporters to call you, and how can you get your Web site mentioned? Look for some ideas in Thursday's Ezine-Tip.

But, there's more to this story. Although USA TODAY did not publish a live link to his travel site, it does list McGinnis as a columnist on its Tools for Travelers Web page with a link to his site.

Chris doesn't know why he's listed as a columnist, because he isn't. But, he recently added a higher-profile outlet, as travel commentator and adviser on CNN's Headline News from 6 to 9 a.m. US Eastern time on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

"I got this gig because the VP of CNN-HN is an avid reader of THE TICKET and wanted me to get the kind of news I had in the newsletter on her air," Chris said.

Lesson Two: You never know who's reading your newsletter, which should motivate you always to do your best work.

You can read the USA TODAY story here.

Here's Chris' Web site.

The hard-to-find USA TODAY Tools for Travelers site.

Ezine-Tips for April 17, 2002

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