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One of the best ways to promote your business and your brand is to become a thought leader. More specifically, to be the leading expert in your field and your market.
You want to make sure your brand is at the top of mind with your local newspaper and television reporters. You want to be the one they call on for advice when a story breaks that concerns your industry.
You are already an expert in your trade, but that doesn’t do much good if no one knows that you have excellent advice to offer. Getting the media to come to you for a story doesn’t come easily, either. If you are a home service business, you are probably vying against several other similar companies for the same coverage in your city or service area, as well.
At Ripley PR, we work to get our clients as much earned media as possible. Presenting our clients as the market leaders in their field is one of the best ways to build confidence in journalists that our client is the expert.
Here are a few sure-fire ways to set yourself apart from your competition:
1. Gather knowledge: Find out what makes your product or service interesting. If you own a plumbing business, you can offer homeowner tips or general advice. Maybe your HVAC company hosts some workshops for the community that offer troubleshooting tips or perhaps your company simply hosts a big charitable event in your community.
Once you have gathered some intel on how best to position your thought leadership, you can then showcase it.
2. Improve your website: A great place to start is by making sure your website is up to date. An outdated website that is not user-friendly can turn off potential customers and reporters alike. Update your website and include places to add updated content, like a media center that includes a blog and a section for press releases.
3. Write press releases: When there is an ice storm and you’re a plumber with tips on how to handle freezing pipe, write a press release on your advice. If are an HVAC installation and repair shop owner and you have tips on how to service air conditioning to prepare for summer, write a press release.
The more you offer the media additional content, the more they will know to contact you if they have questions that pertain to your business.
4. Get on social media: If you do not already have Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter or Instagram pages, get them. If you are on social media, post consistently. Having social media pages that haven’t been updated in several months can show a potential customer or the media that you don’t have any advice to offer.
5. Build a network of followers: Now that you are updating your social media on a regular basis, it’s time to build your network. The best way to gain followers is to provide relevant content and to follow others. Be involved. Read and share others’ content as you post your own. Building a network requires some diligence on your end, but it is worth it once you’ve built up a good following.
6. Find out which publications the pros read: No doubt, you are familiar with the trade publications in your industry, but you should ask around to see which publications are read the most often and why. Then target your expertise to these publications. Getting your name in the trades and out amongst your peers helps solidify your role as a thought leader.
7. Become a teacher: Making complicated subjects easier for the layman to understand is a defining characteristic of a thought leader. If your audience understands your advice and trusts you to provide practical tips, you will establish a loyal base that will follow you no matter what platform you use.
8. Take media training: Public relations professionals can help you learn the ins and outs of dealing with the media. Many PR experts were once reporters themselves, or have been working with them for years. Media training helps you avoid the pitfalls of dealing with the media — like knowing what to wear or how to be confident on camera.
Being a high-visibility expert in your industry sets you and your business apart from your competition. Recognized industry experts attract new business and help their organizations boost their brand. Being the ambassador for your home service company can help you reach potential customers and other stakeholders that you don’t normally reach through traditional advertising.
Public relations is all about building trust and creating relationships. Following a strategy that increases your standing in the community and positions you as the leading expert in your field and in your market helps you build that trust and creates relationships within the local and trade media.