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. 

Three Ms for Mapping Your Small Business Path

When asked ‘who has a plan – a marketing plan or a business plan?’, you can hear the crickets. So many small businesses have no plan in place.

Some small businesses know exactly who they are and where they are going but the vast majority, while having the best products and service, are stuck in practitioner mode.

Focused on the day-to-day, with no plan or strategies in place, marketing not a priority and often left wondering where the next customer or client will come from. They are brilliant at what they do but trying to do it all alone and without a plan.

When asked ‘who has a plan – a marketing plan or a business plan?’, you can hear the crickets. So many small businesses have no plan in place.

It does make it more challenging to get where you want to be without a plan. It is like getting in a car to go to Melbourne, without looking at a map and keeping your fingers crossed hoping you are heading in the right direction just be relying on your best guess.

Business success, starts and ends, with having a plan. A map that lays out your direction, the tools you need to get there and the people you need to help you achieve your goals. Relying on your natural talents is not enough.

But … before you even get started creating a PR/marketing plan, it is good idea to get your foundations locked in … so when you have finished your plan, you have mapped out EXACTLY where you are going and how you are going to get there.

DETERMINE YOUR MESSAGE, MARKET AND MEDIA

Do your research

Will help you anticipate needs and changes. You can’t plan for everything but you can have strategies and initiatives in place to point you in the right direction. Conduct surveys, focus groups, one-on-one interviews to get a good idea of what your current customers/ clients like about you, why they do business with you etc. Survey Monkey is a good resource. Also look at your competitors – what are they are doing well, what do their customers say about them?

Know your target audience

Get to know the people and groups you want to hear your message; this also includes who you want to target in the media.

Know what you want to say

Once you know who your audience is, you can then work on your key messages – what is you want them to know about you.

Know other stakeholders

Who else would be interested in what you are doing? If you have employees, shareholders, JV partners etc they will need to understand and know what you are doing. Most importantly, you will need their support.

TIP – Don’t forget to share your PR successes with them.

Know the market

Make sure you check out other companies especially your competitors. Find out where other opportunities are. By exploring the market, you will also uncover other platforms for your products or services, other ways to craft your message and new markets.

Avoid overwhelm

Know what you can do and can’t do. To do this, have a good grasp on your time, budget and who does what. If it is within your budget, hire a PR professional because sometimes you can’t do everything!

Timeline

A visual guide to help you define where and when you are going to implement certain strategies in your plan. Take into account media deadlines and other important events.

Take action

Once your plan is in place, it is time to implement it. Because you have taken the time to plan your PR campaign’s roll out, you can allocate time to action the items in the plan. Continue to monitor your plan – it is not a bookshelf decoration; it is a living document that is meant to be used.