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Growing your professional profile using PR

Social media has spilled into the PR scene over the past decade, and many marketers, entrepreneurs and business owners have turned their focus to growing their online profiles. The benefits of a large social media following are great, and it’s important to remember that PR and social media go hand-in-hand when it comes to expanding your audience and boosting your credibility. 

Go beyond social media and embrace earned media (a.k.a. PR) to build your profile as an expert or thought leader. Not only is article development great for your writing skills, but it also helps draw business, build your profile and make you a media-go-to for your industry’s trends. 

Journalists are always looking for expert sources and interviewees to add value and credibility to their articles, television segments or radio broadcasts. Most are happy to connect with business owners, providing a symbiotic relationship between the two. And if done right, they’ll come back to you for information time and time again. 

Follow these four simple tips to help you get started on growing your profile as a media expert in your field: 

Clearly define your field of expertise:

Take the time to understand the specific value you can offer the media—focus on how your expertise can help a journalist tell a compelling story. Take a look at the work you do, your credentials and find your industry niche—it might be your unique perspective or a series of tips you can provide. Once you’ve done that, you take the next step of determining which media outlets and journalists will benefit from your expertise. 

Identify the outlets and journalists where your expertise will fit: 

Finding the right spot for your message can be the most challenging step in building your profile. To start, read news specific to your industry, from mass media (e.g., online and physical outlets that cover a range of topics) or specific industry verticals (e.g., media that reports on one topic or industry). Identify the journalists who write about your industry and start reaching out to them with a simple introduction about who you are, what you know, and let them know you’re available to help them with any stories they might have. 

Brainstorm (and write) your own opinion pieces: 

Freelance journalists aren’t magicians, they’re simply curious people exploring and writing about a topic that is of interest to them and pitching them to editors—to become a thought leader or industry expert, you have to do the same. With the large number of outlets looking for original content, why not start submitting your own articles? Use your clear expertise to become a thought leader or industry expert by writing articles that address the issues your industry faces and possible outcomes. Then pitch them as complete articles, along with your industry-specific credentials, to outlets and editors looking for original submissions. 

Be available: 
Journalists and editors work to very tight deadlines, so if you want to be their go-to source for industry information you need to be available. So, drop the ego, don’t push back on requests and be honest with them if you know you can’t make a certain time or answer their query fully (and if that’s the case, explain why and try to point them in the direction of someone who can). Sometimes they’re able to be accommodating, sometimes they’re not, but it’s very important not to burn bridges or mark yourself as unreliable. 

Remember, your job in building your credibility via PR is to help journalists tell compelling stories, so do your best to do just that. If you define your expertise, identify the right outlets and contacts, work on your own content and are accommodating, you’ll be well on your way to PR success. 

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Written by Krista Bordner

Krista Bordner is the president of HYPR (www.handleyourpr.com) and helps small businesses, entrepreneurs and startups with limited marketing budgets to run their own PR campaigns. 

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