While words like ‘agility’ and ‘flexing’ sound agreeable when it comes to coping with emerging digital (and business) ecosystem, it is rather more definitive when…
Digital and traditional PR – both are needed to grow your business.
PR is not a one-off event that happens only for making specific announcements to your public/ business stakeholders. It’s a continuous process that slowly builds your brand and carves a certain perception in the minds of your customers, consumers, and the general public.
However, the PR charm is changing quite fast for businesses – particularly for marketers and digital leaders. Reason? Well, we see a mesh between traditional and digital communication channels to communicate a holistic story of brands. PR doesn’t operate in siloes; it operates across various divisions and sub-divisions of a company – understanding your brand’s voice in granularity and coherently.
And what we are witnessing is how businesses at large are harnessing the power of digital capabilities and digital leadership to make increased profits, better business models and operations, as mentioned in the book, ‘Leading Digital’ by George Westerman, Didier Bonnet, and Andrew McAfee.
But how is this related to PR?
Communicating your brand message isn’t just a print affair; it’s an audience affair – it’s all about your audience. While print reaches out to masses, your digital channels can constantly iterate your message and make them more bespoke for your target customers and audience in general.
Cross-pollinating ideas among content marketing professionals, to search, to social, to customer support, to digital masters – and to sales as well – determines the most ‘qualified, pertinent and logical’ narrative for your company.
PR is both qualitative and quantitative – giving you the right scoop of what, where and how your customers are responding to your message. Through data-driven communications, you can collect meaningful information about your customers (trade bodies, Hoovers, Dun & Bradstreet, etc) that will make you a more informed marketer/ decision maker.
After all, isn’t PR supposed to provide you business results eventually?
The’ actual’ quaint perception of PR is to create a meaningful business impact whilst building a promising thought leadership: that happens only when you marry traditional PR with the new age digital investment (like analytics, social media, embedded technologies, mobile computing, etc), and create real-time PR content.
Your snazzy bylines, press releases, and compelling op-eds can be repurposed into useful blog posts, social media posts, an interesting primer on Instagram, a vlog, an exciting podcast episode, or simply an update on LinkedIn (another big channel for businesses to build their brand imagery).
With digital channels, your public relation activities will be more focused, real-time, right and fast – and responsive – which will ultimately give your business the right boost to grow in numbers as well as build market insights, to have a sustainable competitive advantage over your competitors.
So understand PR from the digital lens – and your business will thrive!
Evangelizing a company brand is no more a responsibility of just the marketing department/ division in your company. It cascades down to each and every individual working for the company – be it operations, marketing, customer support, sales and more.
A company, after all, is a summation of its people that work towards one purpose – and not just confined to the bottom line but also people who cohesively create better business, social and financial impact for its customers and overall business ecosystem in which it functions.
So how do you create such an integrated impact on your company’s brand?
1) Align your personal brand with the overarching company’s brand. Quite a times, employees don’t sync in their personal brand’s meaning with the company’s vision. This seems a bit of a sidelined approach when you collectively work towards a common purpose. Pair up your personal voice and echo it in the chambers of the company’s board rooms – or if you feel your can voice your thoughts by writing for the company’s blog – do it! Sometimes people like airing out their perspective via quieter yet stirringly inspiring mediums, like writing. And it works.
2) Actively participate in PR opportunities. Big, small, nearly big and growing – pitch to any publication and start talking about how your company is helping its customers. Your ecosystem needs you; don’t just latch on to your marketing/ PR folks to contribute in the drizzling of content on these publications. You need to constantly be attentive of new developments happening in the market and how your brand is pivoting. Even if you don’t think there is any big announcement, don’t undermine the power of useful articles, real-time press releases and contributing your quote that can reach out your target masses.
3) Network, network, network. Shortlist events that are aligned with your company’s business and come up with your practical, no-nonsense elevator pitch (yes, we all need one no matter how much we run away from the word ‘pitch’). Converse with people who are not limited to just your ‘hot’ prospects; be more expansive and liberal and give your cent percent in communicating your brand’s message. And it doesn’t stop there; e-mail them when you reach office and open up conversations that help their business by leveraging your services. That way, the don’t just ‘know’ but also understand you and start to see as a selfless brand evangelist.
How are your evangelizing your company’s brand?
Putting things out on the Web in a jiffy won’t help retain your brand in your audience’s mind: it’s short lived. By things I mean the occasional Tweet about your participation in the last conference you attended or sharing an emotional video about a brand that moved you a bit more than you thought, or writing a post on some hot developments happening in the ‘tech’ space. While plowing something on the Web is always better than nothing, but when it comes to making a space of retention in your audience’s mind, you know you want to build a larger, useful, and longer online ‘shelf space’ on the Web.
Your audience needs more retention and less of depletion when it comes to great content that packs up useful information with the right data chops. After all, isn’t there just already too much to think when consuming content on the Web, let alone remember and then safely store in our memory chips?
So what is it?
Focus on your audience’s growth by creating an impact with consistent writing that addresses their professional challenges and areas of massive opportunities.
Sometimes we are busy writing business without much deliberation about whether it’s creating the requisite impact on our audience to help them take action, with ease. And the irony is, it’s not about business; it’s about helping our audience via …now you can safely fill this with your business language.
You create retention by thinking like your audience and speaking their ‘customer care’ language: in words that answer their most complex questions without fluff/nonsense. Words that may sound complex, but not confusing.
All your social media updates – while they may sound fleeting and contextual – once done right with consistency alongside writing blog articles can create, like I said earlier, your brand longevity. This will ultimately put you on the pedestal of a loyal audience retainer with your helpful content.
So start ‘raining in’ great content – and stick to it diligently. You will see success!
How are you helping your audience retain your brand’s influence on the Web?
What are your go-to mantras?
Content is king. No matter how persuasive is your social media plan, but if you don’t have a great content strategy lined up to support your overarching plan, your entire online marketing efforts go for a toss.
Building thought leadership for your brand works with the same support: amazing content and even more amazing genuine endorsement of your perspective across social networks.
But how do you tie it back all together and ensure that your brand has started some seeding and will grow in its visibility over a definitive period of time?
Let’s face it: if you are expecting to write some blogs for a few weeks, carve out a social media approach to promote those posts with some curated content and expect to become a thought leader, just because you have been writing for a while, you will not move the needle in the long haul.
What you really need is a solid, foundational content strategy that boils down to your target audience. You wouldn’t be writing for anyone and everyone simply because you think what you are creating ‘should’ be relevant for all.
Your audience is your goldmine; you are writing categorically for people who support your vision and purpose.
Understanding your buyer personas is critical in creating engaging content. Your content strategy hinges on:
And most importantly, writing consistently will win you many points in establishing your thought leadership.
While the above points mentioned are basic to get your heads into building your thought leadership, you can advance with your brand by constantly plowing fresh content or repurposing your old content to meet the new needs of your audience.
The goal is not to stop. Keep writing. And keep seeding – and growing with your thought leadership.
What is your content strategy? How are you boosting your thought leadership?
There are millions of blogs on the Web – and they are only going to get more with each passing day.
Keeping tabs with your favorite blog update among the already clustered Web space is a feat in itself.
Think about it: you click on one blog post and you greet with a palette of other posts waiting to get your attention. And when you are having a blog of your own – well, you’ve got to intelligently position yourself as a trusted thought leader for people to bestow their interest in your blog, and eventually, contact you for a consultation or a work opportunity.
Like I always keep reiterating: like it or not, you are already a brand. And so this percolates down to your writing on the Web as well. How you portray your personality via your writing showcases your personal brand, in a dynamic and an iterative way: you are constantly disrupting yourself and evolving with your perspective via writing.
So delve into these starting points to present your best version of your brand via your blog.
What steps do you take to showcase your brand’s personality via your blog?
You receive a barrage of new notifications that pump you up at the first instance – be it LinkedIn or Facebook (primarily). And for all…
With more and more small businesses sprucing up globally, there is a growing demand for even stronger differentiation. And that differentiation has many facets – how you position your brand in the market, to how you market your product/ service, to how to establish a market leadership, to how you forge collaborations with your partners, media, industry stakeholders – and grow your customers.
And there’s just something more that is added to your ever-growing list of things to do on a daily basis.
So how you do tie it back to your story as a business owner? How do you communicate your brand’s message and leadership in a way which is not pompous but assertive – that makes a point of your very existence in the small business ecosystem? In the worst case scenario when everything else feels a bit disconcerting, how do you showcase your experience and knowledge to your customers, for them to bestow trust in your business?
The answer is the new natural for startups/ small businesses to thrive, it is blogging.
Here are a few reasons you should put your fingers on the keypad – and start blogging.
1- SEO needs it. Writing blogs consistently – be it once a week or twice a month, I leave the schedule and frequency to you – helps Google crawl up your search results and gives you a better brand visibility when companies search for a relevant keyword/ phrase in your industry. You customers and prospects want market information in just a few words typed into the search bar – and you should know what exactly they are looking for. That way, you can provide them with the information they need, when you put some information/ educational purpose into your blog posts.
2- Your customers love them. A successful marriage of your company blog and SEO friendly hacks definitely gives you more promising leads. The more your leads find your blogs rich in content and overall tonality, the more chances of them to fill up a company form or place an inquiry for buying your product or service. Customers and prospects love to be educated about their questions and queries. And if you can solve their problems via an informative blog post, rest assured, they will give you the business. Warm them up before asking a query and there are more chances of you to have them as a long-term customer.
3- Repurpose blogs into other content formats. While this post is centered around writing blogs, but you can repurpose these blog posts into easily understandable audio and video formats like podcasts, webinar, youtube vlogs etc to cater to a larger set of audience. As how Gary Vaynerchuk says, document over create in his post, you should focus on content that is predicated more on practicality instead of coming up with that one immaculate story idea (which, again, is great, too: but document like Gary says. That way you start creating a memoir of your expertise over a period of time, for which others start to see immense value in your knowledge). However, for all this to happen, you need to blog at the start – and then think of scaling up.
4- Personal and business branding. Creating a haven of rich blog posts benefits you in establishing your thought leadership as a founder and your company in unison. Showcasing your company culture, successful case studies and your media interviews backed by a blog gives you more earned and owned coverage in the media and in your industry, thereby increasing your company’s viewership, more customer traffic, and guest blogging opportunities apart from the traditional PR benefits.
Are you leveraging blogging to scale up your business?
Social media has opened incredible avenues for anyone to write and publish. Let’s face it: we all are publishers. You’d see millions of people joining social networks and sharing their proud piece of work on the internet. Which, in a way, is not that overloading for others to read. Oxymoron? Not really. We have all heard about separating the wheat from the chaff, and that holds true even for your writing online.
There are people who have zero tolerance for gobbledygook or something irrelevant. They have some appetite for good content on the Web and ensure that they wear their blinkers on when they see/ read something, which doesn’t ring true with their filtering standards. They only look for a staple called wheat; rest everything else (no matter how much contextually ‘wow’ for others, doesn’t come under their scanner. It’s chaff, simple). The yardstick for reviewing content, although, depends upon many parameters, differing from a person to person.
Well, these people also happen to think like publishers. And so could you.
Your brand’s online presence hinges on how well you articulate your words with the right accent of emotion, rationale and a captivating narrative.
Thinking like a publishing company will help you connect with your readers in a no-nonsense way. Also, publishing companies can be really picky when they like a piece – and they would go on a reading stampede to ensure that when they are inundated with so many articles or pitches, they work like neat surgeons in keeping the substance and letting go of content that doesn’t resonate with them.
This approach can work for you in building an intelligent brand equity in your business realm. Once your brand starts gaining momentum via producing content for your readers, there will be more [writing, business, speaking] invitations – and you’d, then, have to think like a publisher to accept the most relevant and promising invitations while letting go of the ones that do not connect with your brand’s purpose and overall vision.
You have a voice to shine online across your intellectual properties by being neat about your writing and how you approach your influencers and your ecosystem in general. By neat, I mean crisp yet articulate, prudish yet personally opinionated, and fluid in subtly connecting with your readers.
Michael Brito, in his book, Your Brand: The Next Media Company also highlights the importance of honing your brand to think and to be like a successful media company. He has captured the meaning of content as a brand marketer brilliantly. And so, you can start developing your own media company like a mini-inc or a mini-Forbes via curating and creating excellent content on the Web, with your own set of guidelines and benchmarks when launching any form of content- be it blogs, articles, op-eds, case studies, Whitepapers, e-books, a paperback book, and lately, even a podcast.
As with building your personal brand, following the strategies of a publishing company, your content becomes more focused, enhanced with the right tonality and voice, and brings out more reasons for your readers to stay engaged with you for the long-haul.
Think and write like a publisher; have an outsized impact – in the form of more business, more writing and speaking invitations, co-branding opportunities, cofounding a business, co-authoring a book and much more.
Over to you. Do you think like a publisher?
We have all heard and talked about “Online Reputation Management” – essentially from a small business ORM point of view. So this piece is more about how you manage your own reputation [and not sidelining business] as a personal brand operating online.
But what is Personal Reputation Management anyway?
In simple parlance, it is the art of taking reins of positive, enduring conversations that reflect your brand’s purpose and personality online whist weeding our negative and irrelevant blather that doesn’t resonate with your brand’s definition.
So guess what, we are all faced with these recurring questions when we are developing our personal brand online; some of them are:
Well, the questions and be more and many, but the underlying thought is how you are shaping your ‘personal’ brand’s reputation for your customers and target audience in the most strategic way.
Having positive regurgitation – in the form of comments, endorsements, guest blogging, social media posts – of your brand’s personality online triggers conversations that lead to business conversions over a period of time.
The goal of personal reputation management is to clearly define what your brand stands for and how you want it to be perceived by your audience.
The perception is however subject to what you want your audience to form your brand’s impression.
Ways in which you can make a positive commentary online for better business success?
How are you managing your reputation online?
Let me know!