Position Your Leader as an Expert

Guest Post from Sandra Beckwith:

I often hear from nonprofits asking how they can position their executive director as the local expert on the organization’s key issue. Here’s what I tell them.
First, make sure that if your leader isn’t already an expert, he or she is taking steps to become one. This is one of those situations where you don’t want to use smoke and mirrors.

Then showcase that expertise using specific steps designed to provide opportunities to share that knowledge and experience freely, which is essential. Start with these steps to develop expert credibility:

  • Make your leader the exclusive spokesperson for your organization, whether it’s for media interviews, public service announcements, or advertisements.
  • Send your local media a letter listing story or news segment ideas that your leader can contribute to as a resource. Attach your director’s photo and narrative bio, a backgrounder on your issue, and a brief history of your organization.
  • Produce a relevant booklet with tips or advice from your leader. Identify your executive director as the author. Send it to the media with a news release announcing the booklet’s availability; distribute it to stakeholders; promote it in your newsletter and on your Web site.
  • Continually schedule speaking engagements for your executive director with community groups.
  • Write timely op-eds with your leader’s byline for the newspaper as frequently as possible.

These and other steps executed well locally could help your leader become recognized as an expert nationally, as well. While that might not be your goal, it certainly won’t hurt your local efforts.

Got a media relations or publicity topic you’d like to know more about? Drop me a line at sb@sandrabeckwith.com and I’ll try to answer it here.


  1. This is great and helpful. Thanks for your thoughts. Look forward to reading more (although we still need to chat sometime).

    Sean Hulin

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