Chances are, you know the brains behind Tesla, Microsoft and Facebook, but do people in your industry know the brains behind your business? They should—your employees are the ones that matter most in your digital PR strategy.
A company’s biggest and best PR assets are its people. Yet, employees often get left behind as products, solutions and service offerings take center stage in marketing efforts.
Founder-focused and CEO profile campaigns can be some of the best ways to boost your business credentials as a thought leader while improving awareness of your brand online. We resonate, relate and empathize with other people, and are more likely to approve of company CEOs and their values than government leaders. Today’s world is personality-led, with little room for robotic social media updates that offer no substance and opinion. Bill Gates, Ariana Huffington, Steve Jobs – what do they all have in common? We know them, their brands and their (sometimes controversial) opinions.
So how do you leverage your executives into PR superstars?
1. Get to know them
Put simply—talk to them. You won’t know their background, the achievements they’ve made and their specialisms without asking them. Has your MD campaigned for a charity? Did he have an unusual career before his current role? Did he teach himself a skill or a language? Any of these could be the point that sticks with the editor when they read their bio—making them personable and standing out from the other bios.
2. Check their diaries
Every day there are thousands of conferences, with hundreds of people speaking, which are quickly forgotten by the time the next talker comes on stage. Next time someone in your company is planning to speak at an industry event, ask them for a brief on their speech beforehand. Then, read between the lines. If they have an opinion on something that everyone else in the industry hasn’t already said, or which offers a different viewpoint on a popular topic, consider issuing a call-to-action announcement to the press on the day of the speech.
3. Pitch them to the press
You’ve got their background, their expertise, and their interests to hand—now, send their bio to the press introducing the executive in question and why they might be an interesting fit for an article on their blog or publication. If they want to run a story in future on kettles and your CEO is an expert in kettle technology, it’s highly likely that they’ll turn to you for comment. This is also a great way to build relationships with journalists.
4. Get involved in the conversation
Can your executive weigh in on the latest scientific breakthrough/government minister announcements/controversial advert? If they can relate and offer qualified comment on the latest news and trending topics, get ready to talk.
Prepare for journalists to request comments, but also be proactive and issue your own blog on your company website or pitch it into a publication that accepts opinion-led articles. Get your views out there!
5. Pick your political battles wisely
In the Trump and Brexit years, pushing your CEO’s political agenda has gone from PR suicide to actively-encouraged. Some argue you can alienate half your market, others that by staying silent you can risk being seen as complicit.
Be genuine—people can smell inauthenticity from a mile off. Encourage your executives to speak up for what they believe in if it relates to their work, but consider a second, or even third opinion before pressing send.
6. Build out their LinkedIn profile
You would be surprised by how many employees, not to mention directors, don’t have a full LinkedIn profile. A relevant, up-to-date, informative profile on LinkedIn is crucial, as it’s a reflection on the company that you work for and its choice of talent.
Got an opinion on a topic? Post it on LinkedIn – it’s quick, it’s easy, and it’s a great place to get leads. If you don’t have enough time, consider hiring an agency to create a structured plan for your social media activities.
7. Executive profiling doesn’t have to just be for high-level executives
Got a manager who has done something great, or a lead developer who won an award recently? Shout about it! The more people that others positively associate with your brand and can relate to, the better.
Your best asset is your people—start preparing your PR strategy now.