- By Tania Zamorsky
Not a Celebrity? Not a Problem.
Updated: Mar 31, 2022
How Professionals and Business Owners Can Shine Through Thought Leadership
You might assume that public relations is all about celebrities. Products and parties. Maybe, just a little, Lizzie Grubman. Not doctors, lawyers and the like.
What you may not realize is that, when you see an "expert" being interviewed on TV, or quoted in a magazine or newspaper, odds are good that a PR person at least initially made that happen. Reporters often count on PR professionals to alert them to important developments, and then to provide them with access to smart and reliable sources. This is especially true when it comes to "thought leadership," which is when you are not merely promoting your own product or work matter—but, rather, serving as an objective source on broader topics.
Whether you are a doctor, lawyer or an artisan bread maker, you have as much of a shot at being that source as does anyone else. But: "Why would I want to talk to the press?" and "I'll have you know I make X hundred dollars an hour. Is someone going to pay me for that?"
Let's take the second question first. PR is something that people pay for, and they sometimes pay quite a bit. They do so because they understand that earned editorial coverage gives them a level of credibility that is perceived as far more trustworthy than any advertisement or "advertorial" could ever be. Even if someone is not devoting an entire story to you, merely being regularly quoted as a source in top-tier outlets and industry trades can make you seem like the source to clients who are Googling you—an extremely valuable outcome. In some cubicle in a PR agency at this very moment, an overworked young account coordinator is frantically creating a report calculating what is referred to as the “ad equivalency” of media coverage secured for a client. While the formulas, results and legitimacy of this reporting practice vary, PR always wins---exponentially. But you shouldn't need a written report or some potentially false ad equivalency; you should start seeing some obvious return on your investment, in the form of increased visits to your website, congratulatory calls or notes from colleagues or potential clients and, ultimately, new business. Share your coverage on your website and social media platforms, and enlist others on your team to do so as well, and the impact will be even greater. Still, you may be thinking, “Why would a reporter want to speak to me? Why would anyone want to publish my article?” The short answer is, "You’re not well known yet." People will want to speak to or publish you if you have demonstrable credentials or experience and something newsworthy/interesting/provocative to say.
So how does one build the foundation for proactive PR (which is where you approach the media to suggest a story idea, rather than responding “reactively” to a query received from them)? Where do you start? What should you offer to talk about?
The ideal topic is the one on the minds of you, your clients or your customers, and you already know what those things are. Still not sure?
Here are some brainstorming Questions to Help You Blast Through "PR Block"
What’s your professional passion, your specialty, your niche?
If you are really good at or knowledgeable about one specific thing, for a story about that thing you might just be the most valuable source out there.
Who is my ideal audience?
PR is a means to convey your message to a specific audience, in order to get—and keep—their business. So what kind of client or other audience are you trying to attract? The answer to this question will help you to focus your topic and angle.
What is my goal?
Be as specific as possible. Don't just say, "I want them to hire me." For what kind of matter? Focus your efforts and your offered commentary or content here.
What are my clients or customers most concerned about or interested in right now?
Even better, what's keeping them up at night? That’s your story.
Have I recently made any distinctions in my work or business? Changed a strategy or approach? If so, why?
The answer to this question may not be hard “breaking news,” but it can still lead to a perfectly respectable story or feature article.
Have I argued a strategic point with a colleague lately? Or read a newspaper article with which I vehemently disagreed or which I thought had missed an important point?
Any area that is unsettled or in flux, where some controversy exists, is potential content.
What should I be reading about, in the newspaper, but about which reporters are not yet writing?
Reporters appreciate legitimate leads. Sometimes, all you have to do is give someone an idea to run with, and they will likely quote you in any resulting story. Even if you speak only on background, you’ve established yourself as a helpful future source.
“Pssst, got a hot tip?”
This applies more to bylined articles than news stories, but everyone (especially editors) loves a “tip” story, so fill in this blank in a way that might speak directly to what’s important to your clients right now: “Five Tips for ___________” or “10 Things You Need to Know About _________.” Don’t worry, you’re not going to reveal all; your article will simply skim the surface, show your smarts, and then invite the reader to contact you for further information.
Tania Zamorsky is the founder of Zamo PR. For more information about any of these topics, or if we can help make you and your business a "star," contact us at email@example.com.