Writing a Bio for the Media
Before you begin sending story ideas and pitches to the media, make sure you have a biography prepared. A biography that is targeted to the media helps establish your expertise and your previous media experience. Here are some tips for preparing a media-friendly bio. After the tips, there is a sample biography that you can use as a model.
- Keep it short and simple. As with all things media-related, it’s best to use as few words as possible to get across your message. Your goal is to sell yourself as an expert that they need without detailing your entire CV or resume. Most bios are four or five short paragraphs.
- Tout your specialties and expertise right away. Remember that reporters are always watching for what’s different. Think about your own practice and experience and start by stating why you’re an ideal expert to speak about your area of expertise or interest. What can you offer the reporter that no one else can? But don’t stop with one subject, list other areas you feel confident and comfortable speaking about.
- Share your previous media experience. Have you been interviewed for other publications or broadcast shows? Be sure to include mention of those. Have a radio talk show or a monthly column in a newsletter? Put that in there too. By including other media exposure, you’re letting the reporter know you are media-savvy as well as credible. If you haven’t yet had any media experience, that’s okay. When you do, be sure to update the bio.
- List additional credentials and work in the community.
- Education—where did you get your doctorate?
- Years of experience—an approximate number is good
- Community leadership—on the board of any community groups? Advisory positions? Active volunteer?
- Involvement with SPTA/APA—Make sure you mention your involvement with the public education campaign.
- Beware of overfilling with “alphabet soup.” Watch out for overuse of acronyms or other terms that may not be familiar to the general audience or people who may not be too familiar with psychology. PEC, SPTA, DRN, CBT—the list of acronyms goes on—spell out any abbreviations that may not be known by those outside psychology or APA.
- Identify yourself as a psychologist and use your credentials many times. The more the media sees the title, hopefully the more we’ll see it printed next to your names when quoted.
Sample biography of fictional PEC member Dr. John Smith
Dr. John Smith is a clinical psychologist with more than 25 years experience working with children and adults and has a special interest in helping families cope with chronic illness. Primarily in private practice, Dr. Smith is also an assistant professor at State University, where he often teaches courses on human development and the psychology of aging.
Dr. Smith has written numerous columns about psychology and is frequently interviewed for articles about stress, coping, resilience and work-life balance. He has been quoted in local and national publications such as (list key publications), as well as appeared on (TV or radio shows here). As a member of the public education committee with the American Psychological Association, Dr. Smith has spoken at numerous events in the region about the connection between stress and physical health, as well as how to develop healthy stress management techniques.
A past president of the state’s psychological association, Dr. Smith was recognized Psychologist of the Year in 2005. He is also the past president of APA’s division on health psychology. Dr. Smith serves as a board member for the Chamber of Commerce, the Boy Scouts, and has been appointed to the governor’s council on mental health well-being.
Dr. Smith holds a Ph.D. from State University in clinical psychology. He also enjoys performing with his community theater, where he has played roles small and large, most recently as Ebenezer Scrooge in “A Christmas Carol.”
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