Building B2B Thought Leadership Without a News Release – A Guide in Four Steps
By Robert Brownlie, Associate Account Executive, Bob Gold & Associates
In a 2020 study, 88 percent of B2B decision makers believed that thought leadership was effective in enhancing their perceptions of an organization but only 17 percent thought that what they were reading was good or excellent. This leaves ample room for your business to develop compelling content to improve your company’s reputation.
Brands should always be developing compelling narratives in the media to reach new people and build credibility with existing customers. And even when there is no new product, hire or company developments to announce, there is always a thriving news cycle and a plethora of journalists who may be receptive to an intuitive byline, blog or contributed piece from your in-house industry experts.
For those looking to build their brand and publicly demonstrate their business’s innovative thoughts to potential customers, here are a few tips to follow for increased exposure.
- Get Familiar with the Media Landscape
To develop meaningful media strategies, teams should perform a detailed audit of the reporters, editors, bloggers, podcasters, and influencers active in the industry verticals they are trying to reach. This will help determine the best publications and web platforms to build relationships with.
On a high-level, you will want to develop personas of the types of influencers that reach your target customers. Then, you will want to search via Google, PR platforms and other tools to get a general sense of the media most closely aligned with your areas of expertise and target market. You may also want to research competitors in the space to see who is covering them.
Once you have identified target trades and other outlets suitable for your goals, it is useful to go beyond building a media list and become immersed in the media landscape. This should include signing up for relevant newsletters, reading similar articles, listening to webcasts and getting familiar with the trade shows and events in an industry as well.
- Find How to Contribute
Once you’ve identified which reporters are on the beats related to your business, you will then want to learn how you can contribute. By following newsletters, recent articles and reporter query services like HARO, you can become updated on the opportunities that are out there, what is trending in the space, and which members of your executive team would be best suited as a spokesperson.
For instance, you may find that a CTO may offer new insights to reporters covering technology, while a CMO would be best for those looking for product insights and a CEO would be best for those writing about leadership and broad social impacts. If you’re targeting a large trade outlet, this may mean separate outreach to different reporters covering these various beats.
Remember, your goal is to provide influencers with useful information or story angles, and you’ll want to provide this information to them efficiently. Journalists are busy and often on deadline. Be clear about what is newsworthy and why. So, it is crucial to be aware of the correct resources from your company in order to develop targeted outreach that is useful.
- Tell Compelling Vendor-neutral Stories
PR and marketing professionals should delineate earned media from ad or sponsored content. Unless a reporter specifically asks for news about products, as some may do during a trade show, they will most likely be interested in vendor-neutral stories. This means there is a balancing act to navigate between making sure the key messages developed by marketing are gaining exposure, while also making sure content is not overly advertorial.
The good news is that sometimes making this bridge is not so difficult. After all, key messages are developed to serve customers who the trade media are trying to keep informed. The trick is to determine what unique insight can be developed from these messages and to make those insights applicable to the various industry verticals your trying to gain recognition in.
If you’re skilled in this endeavor, there will be a minimal commitment from higher ups but a big pay off as key value points develop into stories that the media can use for bylines, commentary and a plethora of other applications.
- Watch the News Closely
In the 2020 US Vice Presidential debate, a fly landed on the Vice President’s head for over two minutes. The incident sparked a Twitter maelstrom and even brought the movie star of “The Fly,” Jeff Goldblum, into the spotlight. Imagine if this happened and you were representing an exterminating business! Or better yet, an expert in fly biology.
The point is, keeping in tune with the news and acting quickly when there is an opportunity for your business to provide expert commentary is crucial. PR and marketing professionals should monitor annual events like Black Friday or World Intellectual Property Day, industry tradeshows and even local community events or performances. It’s also important to look for the unexpected. For instance, if you represent a cybersecurity solutions provider, perhaps there was a data breach that reporters may be rushing to cover, and you have an expert opinion to contribute.
Monitoring the news with Google Alerts, email notifications and various other internet searches can result in significant coverage and should be implemented in most PR programs.
Start Building Thought Leadership Now
When you proactively bring your brand to the media in a way that is useful, informative, and engaging you can take your marketing to the next level. And when you do have a news release to announce a new product, service or newsworthy company shift, the news will be propelled much farther, with greater impact and web traffic boosting capabilities, due to your previous media interactions. So, if you’re not building a media presence now, what’s stopping you?