Dr. Phil, Dr. Oz, and Dr. Drew, all have something common, and it’s not just a friendship (or former friendship) with Oprah Winfrey. They all were at the top of their fields in private practice who then extended their expertise to the public. Now, they're regarded by thousands (if not millions) as the go-to authorities for industry-specific wisdom.
With the advent of Internet- and reality TV-fame, bringing your professional expertise to a much bigger audience is more attainable then ever.
“With new media, everyone is a brand,” says Kelly Cutrone, People’s Revolution public relations guru and star of the Bravo show Kell on Earth. “It’s not just the companies with the brands and social media -- everyone is blogging. Everyone is a reporter, so anyone can have a brand.”
That's good news for anyone raring to share their expertise with the masses. Small business owners looking to develop a more public career, become a well-known personality in their industry, or just take their business to the next level might consider these tips.
1. Stand out in your field.
Differentiate yourself from the pack. “Develop a new style within your industry to become known for,” says Cutrone. “Do something above and beyond from what your industry expects.”
2. Make your own niche.
“Find a way to put yourself out there in an area that is untouched,” says digestive care expert, Brenda Watson. “If there is an industry or niche that you have already tapped into, focus on that to help build your fan-base and spread the message about your expertise.”
3. Come armed with the top training and education in your industry.
Of course, “you need to be good at what you do," says plastic surgeon Dr. Michelle Copeland. “Have knowledge and opinions people want, or, a service that is valuable and needed that distinguishes you from the rest.”
4. Be a character with a tough skin.
A strong personality with a distinct individuality attracts a following – fans or foes. “Have notoriety in your field,” says Cutrone. “The personality of Kelly Cutrone was very well known in my industry. I was at the top of the pack. I was known for being super cool and thinking outside of the box. Now that I’m on TV though, I don’t think people think I am super cool anymore.”
5. Get exposure to build credibility.
Give lectures on important and topical issues within your industry. Schools, community centers, your own office headquarters, wherever – put together a forum for you to speak on an issue the community cares about.
“The first time I spoke in front of a group of people and realized I had given them information that was helpful to them, I was hooked—I wanted to do whatever I could to reach as many people as possible in hopes of helping them with their health issues,” says Watson. “I looked for opportunities that were going to give me the most exposure and build my credibility.”
“[But] make sure you know what you are talking about and can [speak well] in public,” says Copeland. “That takes practice and self-scrutiny. Ask others for constructive criticism so you can learn.”
6. Keep up the momentum to build a following.
You and/or your company should be documented in all forms of media. TV, radio, print and web media – get documented as an expert consistently over a period of time.
Watson parlayed the exposure she got from her lectures into seven books, and participation in four PBS specials.
7. Connect with the right people.
Get a publicist and/or a PR team! Notoriety through awareness takes a strategy.
Watson targeted a literary agent and a publicist to make up her team. After self-publishing three books, she wanted the fourth published by a publishing house. At the same time, a member of her PR team was sharing Watson’s philosophy with a PBS producer; PBS, in turn, looked to Watson for hosting a special, which ultimately reached millions. Meanwhile, Watson was leveraging good connections in the natural products industry, which linked her to her community of retailers and consumers.
For TV spots, find out who the producers are for each network news show and what they are looking for. As people recognize your wisdom and on-camera ability, they’ll include you within the five go-to people they rely on when they need someone to talk about your industry.
8. Remember why you went into your industry in the first place.
Regardless of the challenges, the haters, and the competitors, stay positive. For Watson, it has been frustrating competing with people who claim to be experts and give out misinformation. For Cutrone, it has been an ordeal dealing with the way her celebrity has completely invaded her private life -- for example, when those who recognize her tweet both fact and fiction.
But, “if you’re tenacious and you can stand the jealousy, the hate, and you can survive your ego, than you can push up through the glass ceiling,” says Cutrone.
9. Focus less on fame-seeking and more on sharing your knowledge.
Do you want to share your authority on a topic, or to be popular? Watson launched her company after battling her own health issues and realized how may people she could reach with similar challenges.
“My ultimate goal is to help people— through my own experiences and knowledge. By educating people in ways to improve their health, I derive tremendous satisfaction—that is my mission and my passion. The more people I can reach the more I can help. Fame is a tool, but not a goal.”