One of the best parts about having a corporate blog is the luxury it gives you to pick up a past thread and make it top of mind. In my last blog, I shared some of the metrics/indicators to look for when you are targeting media outlets to promote your brand. Assuming you followed my advice, you’ve since landed that big press interview for your CEO/company spokesperson and need to get them prepared for the conversation.
My colleague Kim Diesel (yes, the name is real and she is as badass as she sounds) shared some helpful advice for preparing your CEO for the interview, including using the conversation as part of the relationship building process. Journalists love having ‘go-to’ sources they can rely on to provide insightful, timely and quotable commentary on the latest happenings within your industry.
So how do they go about finding them? Here are a few tips for building online credibility for your CEO that will help them stand out as a source.
Make a Good First (Online) Impression
Our online persona is what people see first when they seek out information about us prior to a formal conversation. Journalists are no different and will often do a quick search on a potential interview source prior to confirming a formal conversation. With that in mind, you want to make sure that all their publicly searchable online profiles are not only professional but highlight the information you want to be seen. (It’s a good habit to set all personal social accounts to private, including Facebook and Twitter, and to delete any old accounts that you don’t want to be found by a search engine.)
You’ll also want to make sure their profiles all have the right details to minimize the chances of your spokesperson being mistaken for someone with the same name, like profession and location.
Once that has been done, the next step is identifying and activating profiles on the platforms most relevant to the audiences your spokesperson wants to reach. Some of the more prevalent platforms are:
- LinkedIn – it is highly likely your CEO/spokesperson already has an active LinkedIn profile, so it will be important to make sure that it is updated regularly and that any and all content that is relevant to their positioning is on full display (i.e. relevant blog posts/content, any prior awards/accomplishments, etc.; more on this in a moment). Journalists will typically give preference to sources that are actively engaged with their followers and demonstrate a compelling (but factual) perspective on relevant industry news and trends.
- Twitter – As we noted in our last article, Twitter is both a promotional and engagement channel for journalists and companies alike. In addition to using Twitter as a channel to amplify and promote your spokesperson’s content, it’s the channel that will give them the opportunity to directly engage with journalists and share their thoughts on their stories and other daily musings.
- Video Sites (YouTube/Vimeo/LinkedIn) – A picture is worth a thousand words, but a thoughtful and engaging video is worth considerably more. YouTube and Vimeo were among the first sites where businesses could easily create videos to delve into complex topics. One of the best examples is the classic ‘whiteboard’ explainer videos. Since then, LinkedIn and other sites have simplified that process to the point that all you need is a quiet space and a webcam.
A word of caution – Social media platforms like Twitter and LinkedIn offer access to journalists that had previously been unheard of. It may be tempting to cold contact them via direct message given this level of access, but your spokesperson should not send direct messages to journalists unless they have a pre-existing relationship or have been given permission. Journalists do not like being pitched on social media unless they specifically request it, and you may find a bridge unnecessarily burned as a result.
With your various platforms in place and properly appointed, it’s time now to focus on driving traffic to them.
Content is King
The proof is in the pudding, the old saying goes, and to build online credibility you’ll need to be prepared to make and eat quite a bit of it. Creating compelling content for the channels that we’ve already discussed goes a long way towards showcasing your spokespersons expertise, and each one has its own unique style and rules that go along with it.
Twitter, for example, is excellent for brief, informative content, but lacks the cohesion for more in-depth discussions (you can create a tweet ‘thread’, but the limit of 280 characters per tweet can make it a challenge). For longer form content, you may want to consider creating a Medium or SubStack account for your spokesperson. Regardless of the format, having a consistent flow of insightful content across the platforms your audience and journalists are most engaged with is vital to building credibility and establishing thought leadership.
Play the Long Game
While this may seem like a considerable amount of work for one interview, keep in mind that the goal is to build and maintain an authentic, credible online persona for your CEO/spokesperson that will drive journalists to proactively seek them out as a potential source.
Establishing an executive as a thought leader takes time, but if done correctly can yield dividends for both their personal and the larger corporate brand for many years to come.
I’ll be back in my next blog to share some tips and strategies for a successful interview, but in the meantime feel free to reach out to myself or the 10Fold team for more information on building out your thought leadership and content strategies.