A blog, the trade press, conferences, TV shows… there are many ways to reinforce your scope as an expert. As long as you respect a certain number of codes.
Write an expert blog
At the turn of the decade, blogs seemed to have been overtaken by social networks. Ultimately though, a tweet with its maximum 140 characters will never replace an in-depth and argued piece. All the proof you need is that you’re reading the Sparklane blog right now. And it’s not just true for start-ups in search of a reputation. The FTSE 50 companies use one or several blogs to put their messages across in a more approachable and less mercantile way than on their institutional websites.
However, the success of an expert blog is determined by several key factors. It must be regularly maintained and the articles must respect the specifications: an inciting headline, keywords emphasised in order to optimise referencing, a length of no more than 5,000 characters (with spaces), and a comments section left open, with or without moderation…. Due to a lack of in-house time and competencies, companies rely on professional writers.
Moreover, a blog is only worth writing if it offers all social network sharing options so as to serve as a sounding box and to exceed the several hundred reads that are generally noted. It must incorporate an RSS feed and offer newsletter subscription in order to collect e-mail addresses. The author of the piece is highlighted with a photo and social profiles. On their LinkedIn or Viadeo page, the latter will take care to leave an e-mail address or even their telephone number in the “Contact” section. With its new editorial service Pulse, LinkedIn also offers the possibility of increasing an article’s audience.
Appear in the trade press
Journalists working for the professional press are always looking for experts, whether they need someone to comment on a current event or to sketch out the big trends of the moment. This is a windfall in terms of improving your visibility. Again, you need to make yourself known as an invaluable contact to the media that cover your market.
Rather than waiting in vain for requests, the most common practice consists of writing an “expert opinion” that is then sent to a database of qualified journalists. This opinion piece, taking the form of a press release, states a point of view whose tone may be polemic. It will be published, as it stands, by all the media that wish to do so.
In order to surf on the hottest news waves, it is possible to just send a “teaser”, i.e. your opinion in a few lines. This may be reprinted in the form of a quotation or it may well make a journalist want to contact you. Has a telecoms operator just been targeted by hackers who have brought down its network? In detailing the modus operandi used by the hackers, this is an opportunity to highlight the importance of installing a firewall … like your own firewall.
Debate in conferences
This point follows on from the previous point. Once you’ve been identified as a “good customer” by the B2B press, you will be invited to participate in workshops or conferences at specialised shows. These conferences are most often moderated by these same journalists, who “cast” their bevy of specialists.
This exercise requires a certain amount of training so that you can deliver your key message in the few minutes you’re allocated. It’s also a question of gleaning the maximum amount of information in advance. Who will be next to you on the stage? It’s best to know if you’re going to be sitting next to a competitor. What questions will you be asked? Does the moderator have a cue sheet that they can communicate to you? You can also suggest coming with a client, as the “expertise + feedback” format is increasingly widespread.
Be seen on TV
Appearing on the radio or TV is the Holy Grail of visibility. As it means reaching a mass audience, you will have to make your discourse more accessible while ensuring that you insert the headlines that hit the nail on the head. However, the goal is not to namedrop your company at all costs or to denigrate the competition, as that would be counterproductive. Over and above your oratory talent, your appearance will be closely scrutinised. Do you work in a start-up? Respect the dress code.
There are still very few TV shows that talk about companies. However, in terms of radio, every station has a “professional” spot on its schedule.
Rather than seeking to contact the presenter directly, it is more judicious to get yourself into the good books of the scheduling manager. It is generally a junior employee (or even an intern) who has to find participants for the next show in the space of a few hours. Which means that they will welcome you with open arms if you contact them with a well thought-out proposal.
Network in informal places
It is now time to make yourself visible In Real Life. No more stilted encounters over canapés after a conference. New informal meeting formats have appeared with the boom of the digital economy, whether these are after-work meetings (and now before-work meetings), meetups or even hackathons. They represent an opportunity to exchange face to face with leads contacted on the social networks.
Websites such as meetup, Startup Digest and BeMyApp list this type of meeting. This new kind of event takes place in a relaxed atmosphere, with informal chat. It’s all about networking and not playing the sales person by running through your sales pitch at all costs.
So now it’s up to you!