How Twitter Can Build Your Brand
Here’s a brand buzz kill.
You read a news article and the “expert” quoted in the story has the same — or even less — experience on the topic than you do. Perhaps he or she is even a competitor of yours.
Ever wonder why that person is the one being interviewed and not you? Wish it could be you next time?
If so, read on.
I recently finished David Meerman Scott’s newest book, Newsjacking: How to Inject Your Ideas into a Breaking News Story and Generate Tons of Media Coverage. Scott does his usual thing here, similar to in his bestselling The New Rules of PR & Marketing, which is to shock you out of complacency.
His message is clear: the world of PR has changed, and those who resist getting on board are doomed to obscurity. (And wasting time and money.)
I write about leadership, and to me, this falls into the category of thought leadership. Plus, I have a particular interest in this topic as I used to own a PR firm, and have watched the industry completely change twice. (When I started in PR, blast faxing to all-mighty print publications was the height of technology innovation.)
In PR, those who embrace change are the victors. However, the majority of companies drag their feet for years resisting change!
My leadership clients frequently struggle with how to use social media tools to increase their visibility and stature. There are time constraints, generational issues, and confusion about how to project a desired image. The risks seem high with so many examples of self-impressed, schlocky types whose social media activities make you think less of them, rather than more.
After all, what most leaders want is not social media notoriety, but a pretty traditional thing: brand elevation.
That’s where Newsjacking comes in. The book goes right at the question, “Why bother?” and answers “Should I be on Twitter?” once and for all. It shows how to expertly use social media to insert yourself into breaking news, and be part of the news cycle — rather than letting it pass you by. News cycles today are faster than ever, and the media is impatient and hungry. Bloggers and online media wield great power. You have to play your best hand in the right game.
In regards to PR, Scott argues that today’s savvy leaders know how to work in the present, and not spend time explaining the past or projecting the future. They operate like reporters do. Here are some of his tips I found relevant. (I wrote this for you as the expert, but if you have a PR team, send this blog to them and say “Do this!”)
1. Set yourself up to actively find news to jack. To get visibility as an expert, you need to be set up to scan breaking news. Get on Twitter, set up a dashboard like Tweetdeck, and create columns by following journalists, news outlets, and hashtags that give you a constant stream of real-time news in your industry. Also follow Tweets of services like HARO (@helpareporter) or Profnet(@profnet) that reporters use to find sources.
For me, the key here is relevancy. I don’t have time to follow everything, but I can review Tweetdeck a few times a day for industry news. Look for breaking news stories where you can comment, i.e. SOPA, Gingrich’s electability, Apple’s new education initiative.
Here’s the best part, even if you can’t comment, you’ll be completely up to date on your industry and seem whip smart in sales meetings. Not a bad consolation prize.
2. Be immediate with your strategy. You have to be ready to jump when you see a story that you’d like to be part of. However, remember to be strategic. Not every story will benefit you or your business. (For example, be wary when responding to a negative issue.) Determine what stance you’d like to take, and what you have to contribute. As I’ve discussed before — dare to be interesting. You’re more likely to be used as a source — and called again — if you give a credible and insightful opinion. Often verbalizing what others are only thinking is a way to go.
3. Put yourself into the conversation full force. Scott offers several ways to do this. A few of his ideas are just-in-time blogging about the issue, tweeting about it on an established hashtag, putting out a media alert, or contacting a journalist who might be interested.
In the book, Scott uses the example of Joe Payne of Eloqua, who instantly blogged after hearing that a competitor was acquired. When reporters Googled the transaction to get more information, Eloqua’s blog popped up first. Payne became a primary spokesperson for the topic, and was able to help shape industry opinion about the acquisition. He was quoted in numerous high-profile publications, and even generated business from it when unhappy clients looked to go elsewhere. Not too bad for a few hours of work.
So let’s say you’re not a company spokesperson nor do you plan to be. I get asked frequently how professionals can increase their market value. One way is to establish industry stature outside your company. Who knows when you’ll be ready for your next gig, and the more people who think highly of you the better. Being quoted by media dramatically builds your platform.
Kristi Hedges is a leadership coach, speaker and author of Power of Presence: Unlock Your Potential to Influence and Engage Others. Comment here or @kristihedges.com. This post also appears on Forbes.com.
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