How to Use Your Hobby to Build Your Reputation through Media Mentions

I love to quilt.

Yes, I sewed this!  A few years ago, while scouting candidates for a big feature about women leaders at Fortune 500 companies, I found myself discussing quilting with another avid quilter.


She was in charge of driving sales for desktop color printers. While her engineers geeked out over the number of buttons and slide trays on the machine, she realized that the ability to print a full-color quilt pattern  at home changed everything for quilt designers. Instead of spending thousands of dollars printing, distributing and marketing printed patterns, they could sell their patterns as digital downloads. That could translate to more creative time and better cash flow.  Her insight resulted in a powerful marketing campaign that sold hundreds of thousands of printers.

Typically, professionals seeking to be quoted in media stories assume that what they bring to the party is their technical expertise. If you specialize in international taxes, that’s what you’d talk about with a reporter, right?

Yes, but it’s not all you bring. Your interests, volunteer work, life stage (new parent, empty nest),  and relationships (child, parent, sibling, friend, co-worker and so on) can be invaluable for reporters seeking ‘real life’  experiences that inject color, personality and humor into stories.

As I explained in Susan Weiner’s blog on smart writing for financial professionals, these angles are an often-overlooked way to build relationships with reporters. Additional benefits to being quoted about ‘who you are’ include:

  • Gaining confidence with on-the-record interviews.
  • Feeding search results with media mentions, which are given top priority in search algorithms. (Google doesn’t care if you were quoted about adopting a puppy or the nuances of merger law; it only cares that you were quoted by an independent news outlet.)
  • Building a reputation as a caring, interesting, three-dimensional person, thus creating context for current and potential clients.
  • Pushing out media mentions through your social networks.

Finding ‘real people’ sources can be frustrating and difficult for reporters. Solve that problem, and you are on your way to becoming a go-to person for the technical quotes and commentary that directly build your professional reputation.