While the promotion of subject-matter experts is long established in B2B PR, we are now seeing a wave of savvy spokespeople reaching new levels of prominence by employing the tools of content creation, curation and social media. Through the content they create and ideas they present and propagate across the web, these superstar social spokespeople are increasingly embodying and driving forwards B2B brands.
Though many of these ‘modern gurus’ are spending time building and nurturing their own personal brands, corporate communicators can also channel this enthusiasm. Especially for those in professional services, the ability to foster well known, content-rich and influential spokespeople, could be hugely beneficial to overall brand building. Likewise, where ideas are often the only source of differentiation, propagating your company’s deep insight across the web is invaluable.
So what are the key factors to consider in creating the modern guru?
While corporate communicators can take on a lot of the legwork themselves, always-on social networks like twitter require active engagement. This means any spokesperson must be able to commit time to the strategy. Getting this included in their objectives, or even job description, is a great way of securing a spokesperson’s time. If this isn’t an option, giving them the taste for fame through relevant examples is another good strategy.
The modern spokesperson is built upon ideas and content. This means producing substantial amounts of useful and interesting content for your target audience. Trying to undertake this process with a spokesperson that has nothing to say simply won’t work. If your spokesperson is an ideas machine and you can access and wield content from across your business, you’re probably on to a winner.
spokespeople also need the enthusiasm to give the programme the effort it needs to succeed. This means creation of regular blogs, articles and multimedia content, regular tweeting etc. While you should look to share copywriting loads internally and externally, becoming a true ‘brand’ is a long-term process, which requires staying power from your spokesperson.
As with most online B2B communications, you aren’t aiming to speak to everyone, just a niche audience that matters. Likewise, trying to cover everything relevant to your audience will inevitably reduce impact and not help your SEO. Work to understand that audience, how they find and consume information and focus your ideas and the content you produce accordingly.
Engagement – engaging with appropriate communities around the content and ideas produced is a must to building your spokesperson’s profile. Identify top target groups, for example within twitter or LinkedIn, and focus your efforts on engaging in useful, interesting conversations and sharing content where relevant.
The proliferation of tools and channels to promote and propagate content is at the centre of the personal brand trend. These tools help share ideas in more ways than ever before and allow people to find them and be influenced. Some of the top tools and channels are: twitter, LinkedIn, Slide Share, YouTube, Vimeo and iTunes.
To truly increase a spokesperson’s profile, the use of different media is a must. Don’t try to do everything, but consider the best opportunities based on your audience and your spokesperson and start there. You might, for example, want to create a regular video interview hosted by your spokesperson to share via your blog, website and email to communicate directly with your audience.
There are inherent risks in the ‘guru’ approach for example, what happens when people change jobs? Organisations should ensure they recognise the opportunities and risks of this approach before undertaking an active guru building programme. Things to think about here include the ownership of online pages, twitter handles etc. and ensuring the overall company benefits from your efforts. Getting these questions out of the way in advance will help avoid any conflict later on and help smooth the path to spokesperson success.