Blog Archives

It’s not who you know, it’s WHAT you know: why thought leadership is important in the digital age

You have probably heard the term thought-leadership before but what exactly does it mean? As marketing increasingly becomes a more social and interactive affair, the term is branded about even more as further online outlets open up, enabling people to share knowledge and information, and position themselves as experts.

leadershipA thought leader is somebody who is adept at sharing knowledge and is always sharing new information about their industry. They are respected for their ideas, their values and for sharing these in the public domain, on social networking, blogs, in the press and on marketing material. Many people look at these thought leaders and are instantly impressed by them, but in truth they are not doing anything you cannot do yourself.

Go on then, how do I become a thought leader?

Anybody in business can be a thought leader. If you are involved in a business you will already have extensive knowledge of your industry that you can share with others. If you are a company director, nobody will have more knowledge of your business than you do so nobody can better highlight the changing trends within your industry. By sharing these trends and some of your own experience, you are already setting yourself up as a thought leader and the more best practice you share, the more of an audience you will build up of respectful peers.

But I don’t want to give away all my trade secrets…

You don’t have to. You should already understand the major issues that your customers face every day, the issues that your business faces and key trends in your industry. Write regular blogs, share tips on social media or consider putting some material together for your key trade press. Comment on these trends, relate to your own experiences and inform people of how best to deal with certain issues. It is no coincidence that a lot of business and trade press have ‘Ask The Expert’ columns which give advice to readers. This is the kind of thing that people in business like to read. They like to keep abreast of changing trends in their industry, read about other people’s ideas and read about solutions to existing industry issues.

When becoming a thought leader, think about timeliness and relevance. When do your customers experience their main issues? For example, financial advisors have key months of the year when their audiences need more expert and advice than others, when competing tax returns or when there is a major change in legislation. If you have a solid business strategy, you should also have a timeline of events developing that you can refer to for thought leadership material.

Thought leadership works best when you engage your audiences and invite them to engage with you. Ask them for their thoughts and ideas and invite them to share in your own thought leadership – this is a great way of making new business contacts!

How best do I do this thought leadership thing then?

Writing original material about your business in time consuming, and it takes effort, energy and creativity – but the rewards are worth this time and effort. Thought leadership enables you to raise your profile, increase your credibility and reputation, reach and engage with new audiences, generate leads, and in crease your own knowledge by inviting other to engage with you.

At Bridge, we regularly help our clients to position themselves as thought leaders. Here are our top four tips for effective thought leadership:

1.       Take a strategic approach – Decide which topics, themes and issues you want to talk about and tie these in with your key company messages. Consider some of the key words that you will be using. Remember, people that search the web for these words may well come across your thought leadership material!

2.       Create a content calendar – Decide how often to blog, share best practice on social media or create press material. Tie this in with key dates for your industry and plan your content around these dates. Try to stick with this calendar as well as you can.

3.       Blog – If you are new to thought leadership then blogging is a great place to start. There are so many free tools and applications available on the internet now that businesses have no excuse not to be blogging.  Try to stick to a regime of one blog a week to ensure you consistently have fresh content for industry peers to read.

4.       Outsource your thought leadership – Not all business leaders have the time or the writing skills needed to create frequent thought leadership material. The easiest way to resolve this is to work with a reputable agency to translate your industry knowledge into interesting and engaging copy. An additional benefit of outsourcing is that an agency will be better positioned to place your thought leadership material into publications. At Bridge, we regularly receive requests from Editors and journalists looking for issues-based content.

 

Remember – every business owner has the potential to become a thought leader; you just need to spend the time and effort sharing relevant information to your audiences. We can help with this and if you want to ask us more details about how we can help you to become a thought leader, please do contact us on 02476520025. In the meantime, we look forward to reading your thought leadership pieces….

Advertisements

5 tips on how to get the most from your PR agency

Recognising the value in public relations is fundamental to a series of successful campaigns and a significant profile raise. Many companies take a PR agency for granted and expect them to magic stories out of the blue. However, a strong relationship is needed between the client and PR if anything good is ever going to come of the contract.

At Bridge, we like our clients to be aware of the real value of PR, and understand what their responsibilities are – after all it is all about communicating the right messages correctly!

1. Develop a comprehensive PR brief

You wouldn’t jump into a pool without knowing how to swim and where you wanted to get to. Prevent your PR campaign from sinking by having a detailed brief on what your business wants to obtain from it. Also, be honest about your budget! If the financial perimeter is set then the agency will not go overboard on their creative proposal, resulting in the company being let down when they don‘t have the finances to support it. If the seeds are sown correctly with a clear goal ahead, then your business will only reap the rewards of a vibrant PR strategy.

2. Maintain regular contact

PR is not intended for sales leads – that is what your sales team are for, however it is important that your agency are able to liaise with the sales team in order to sync the information that is going out in the public domain. If the sales team are regularly updated with info from the PR side then they can refer to it in their sales patter. Speaking to your PR agency regularly will keep your business at the forefront of the PR teams minds, and that foundation of a relationship will enable them to prosper in the work they carry out for you.

3. Frequent face to face meetings

In our experience the best stuff comes from meeting clients face to face. Although we currently live in a digitally dominated society, human nature can prevail all. Face to face conversations have the ability to develop a corporate personality more than any other medium. We have had recent meetings with clients who are very busy people, and some of the best stories come as we are about to walk out of the door and they say “oh did I tell you we’ve just won a massive contract…”

4. Tell them EVERYTHING

A PR agency can only be as good as the information they are provided with. Keep the PR agency updated with the happenings of your company as they will always be researching newsworthy angles in relation to what is going on in your marketplace. If you keep the PR team in the loop when it comes to news and business developments confidentiality will not be a problem as good agencies will always run content past you for approval first. Remember – they are working as part of your team!

5. Identify your ‘Bibles’

Whilst carrying out research on your PR campaign it is vital that you identify the key publications you want to be appearing in. Most publications provide media packs on who their readership is and what the circulation is. Maybe you are a local business and just want to appear in the local newspapers? Whatever the situation is you need to make the agency aware of this so that they can focus their material to the style and format of that specific publication. This way they will also begin to develop stronger relationships with the editors and reporters to ensure you receive regular coverage with them.

Five top tips for Content Marketing

We were delighted to be guest speakers at last week’s Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce event, where we shared our top five tips on content marketing. The attendance figures were impressive with local businesses also benefitting from tips on accountancy from Simpson Financial Services, and how to pitch to local government from Warwickshire County Council. For all those who missed it, here are our five top tips for content marketing…..

1 – Stories are the lifeblood of your business

Without great stories how can you tell people about your business, who you are or what you do?

Stories are in every business. Are you approaching a significant anniversary? Have you launched a new product or won an award for your services? Have any of your staff done something interesting for charity or championed their community in some way? Are your products quirky or unusual? Are there any general business issues that you can piggy back on? All these are stories that, when you find the right angle, people are interested in hearing and sharing. There’s no such thing as a business without stories to tell – you just need to find the right angles for the right audiences.

2 – Love your business strategy

Only when you really understand your business goals and strategy will your marketing follow suit. What is your mission? What is the purpose of your business and where do you see it in a few years time? How are you going to achieve your mission?

Once you have answered all of the above, that is where your marketing plan comes into play. It will help you to achieve your business mission and enable you to set targets for the number of contracts you need to win, the number of new customers you require and which sectors you need to target in order to enjoy growth.

3- Marketing communications planning

There is no substitute for good planning – make it a priority! Make sure you tie your planning in with your business and marketing strategy.

By understanding your target audience, you can plan for long term success. Often your audience will be your target customers but you might also want to target industry thought leaders with your marketing.

Prepare a plan of your monthly marketing activity. How many press releases will you create and send out? How many blogs will you write, and how many hours will you spend on social media?

4 – Content really is King!

These days there is no excuse for not having good content that will help drive traffic to your website or blog, or simply give you an opportunity to interact with your business communities.  It’s always better to generate your own original content about your company, its products and services and tell people the exciting things you are doing.  But you can also curate content to demonstrate your expertise in your industry sector. There are lots of content curation tools on the Internet, but why not try Scoop.it, for example.  Scoop.it allows you to put a few key words into your topic and then brings anything mentioned those keywords into your curation page.  This will generate many interesting stories about your industry which you can then share with your audiences – it really does work!

5 – Do your research

The internet and social platforms are an amazing store of knowledge, information and marketing intelligence for every conceivable industry sector.  Set up Google Alerts on every aspect of your business and industry and subscribe to RSS feeds and blogs so you are notified whenever a conversation is happening that you need to be a part of!

Listening is just as important as informing and sharing knowledge.  Listen to what your communities have to say on social networks and mine them for the gold nuggets that are potential content for you to convert into stories.

Should you be Pinterested in the next big social network?

Still questioning Quora? Found that Google Plus has turned out to be a negative? Then you are probably uninterested in Pinterest – the very latest in a long line of social networks that experts are citing as the next best thing. However, unlike the others, Pinterest actually has taken off and was one of the fastest networks to reach 10 million users a month. When it comes to sharing content and meeting people with similar interests to yours, Pinterest is perhaps the most useful social network of them all so why should you join in with the buzz?

Firstly, let’s myth bust; Pinterest is not a new social network. It has been around for several years but only recently has found itself blossoming in popularity. Unlike similar hyped up networks like Quora, Pinterest’s early adopters were not typical internet geeks but in fact, average everyday women with mainstream interests, opening up the passageway for a wide ranging audience of users. There is no intimidation factor here; no importance laid upon keeping up with the most influential users. In fact, unlike most social networks it runs at your own pace and can be about anything you want it to be about.

Bridge Pinterest

Your Pinterest boards can be about anything you want - we even have one for Bridgit!

The idea of Pinterest is that you share ideas online by pinning images from the web to virtual pin boards. Users then have the choice to follow a particular pin board or repin something of interest to their own pinboard – much like Twitter’s retweet facility.

Upon first visiting the website, the first thing to note is its appearance and usability. It’s very easy on the eye and very simple to use. Much of the content on the social network is about products; furniture, books, clothes and household items and it can at times seem like a large online shopping store – the female influence coming across heavily. However, leaf through the typical domestic boards, the wish lists and the clutter and there are some very interesting boards. Boards on social media, infographics, images of old newsrooms and even one board looking at hot businesses of the month. It is easy to see why Pinterest is attractive to advertisers – this is a place that they can promote themselves, with links back to their own website without ramming advertisements down a user’s throat.

In terms of content marketing, Pinterest could well become the most useful and important social network of them all. Of course, a lot depends on the user and that is the beauty of Pinterest – it can be about absolutely anything you want so as long as people share interesting content it will always have a purpose. However, unless you are specific, your individual boards may well become lost in translation. Millions of users will be following pinboards about marketing so make yours niche. Title it content marketing, digital marketing or b2b marketing and allow it to stand out from the crowd.

Make sure you are repining interesting content to your own pinboards and sharing it with your own network of followers. As with any social network, following the right people can bring new content to your attention which you can then, in turn share with other creating a chain of content marketing practitioners. 

As a business you need to curate your content properly and organise it into different areas of your business. If you are a retailer, just as you organise shop shelves, you need all your products categorised and displayed together. If IT is your industry, sub categorise the genre into different factions; network systems, new innovations, mobile devices and web devices. The key is to make your content unique, niche and interesting enough for others to repin and share.

Above all else, have fun. Pinterest is unlike any other social networks in that there is no pressure to be seen as an industry leader. It moves along at its own pace and can be personalised to suit your needs. As well as serving as a platform for content marketing, Pinterest can also be your own personal pin board of interests, products you want to look at further and links or diagrams of particular interest.

Pinterest is unfortunate in that it has been tipped for success by the experts and predicted as the hot new social network of 2012. However, unlike fellow victims to this hype like Quora and Google Plus, Pinterest is causing enough of a stir to actually live up to its expectations. The interface is simple, the idea effective and the reasons for using it plentiful. In fact, Pinterest could just be the most (P)interesting thing to happen to content marketing.

Follow Us on Pinterest

Top Content Marketing Tips

Content Marketing: An umbrella term encompassing all marketing formats that involve the creation or sharing of content for the purpose of engaging current and potential customers…..

It sounds simple doesn’t it? But in practice, there are actually few companies out there who can create good content for their different marketing channels.   

Effective content marketing requires a strategic approach followed by detailed planning to produce “stories” that are engaging.  By engaging we mean stories that offer something to the reader through being interesting, informative or entertaining.  If they can be all three, then even better!

Identify your target audience…

Who are you looking to reach out to and connect with? What kinds of things do they want to be reading, watching and hearing? Just as any new retail outlet needs to find the right situation to construct a new store, you need to find the right networks to reach certain people. A DIY store is not going to open up shop right next to another DIY unless it has an impressive USP to attract new customers, just as you shouldn’t be sharing the same old content with the same old people time and time again.

You want people to be receptive to your content so find out what their interests are. Get to know the kinds of topics that excite them and create targeted content aimed at their needs.

Get your marketing strategy right…

You need to know your platforms well. These days, there are more social networks than ever before, and this market is still growing.  So make sure you are using the right network to get a specific message across. For example, if your subject is controversial, you can measure its response much easier through blog comments or Facebook comments than you can through Twitter responses. If you are after short promotions or quick web visits though, it is Twitter that can make an immediate short-term impact.

Develop your key messages…

What is it exactly you are trying to say? Find out what it is that your target audience is searching for on the web and cater your content around that. Much like when adding META tags to web articles to enhance SEO, search Twitter for relevant hashtags and buzz words to add to the content you share.

Do something different…

If you go to a Star Wars convention dressed as Harry Potter, you will attract attention whether you want to or not so why not try some different to enhance your content marketing? We are one of the first PR and marketing companies in the region to introduce video PR into the content marketing plans of our clients and offer a brand new way for consumers to view content. Text and images are all very nice but who wouldn’t rather watch a video of something of interest than read about it? Video is the latest way of communicating your messages with your audiences and is fast becoming one of the most shared content forms in the online world.

Build relationships…

Remember that the key to effective content marketing is not only creating your own content but sharing relevant articles too. Make sure you get to know those in your social networks and take every opportunity to engage with them regularly. We have set about creating an exciting new networking event that was born out of a joke on Twitter, which will see us meet some of our social networking peers and put faces to their names, thus adding a touch of familiarity to our social networking activity.

Evaluate your strategy…

Like with anything, it is important to constantly evaluate your content marketing strategy. Is your content being shared within the right circles? If not, why not? What can you do to make sure that next time you blog or tweet, it is seen by the right people?

Everybody has unique methods of content marketing that works for them, whether scheduling in content or sharing content at specific times. Only through evaluating your marketing communications activity will you find a method that suits you, and one that you can utilise in future.

Do you need some help with your content marketing or are you intrigued about just what our video PR service can offer your business? Get in touch with us today and see how we can help you get the best out of your business.

Want to know more about the networking event we are planning? Stay tuned to our blog and keep a lookout on Twitter for the hashtag #warwickcookieparty and all will be revealed…..