MFTV: The Ides of March: Managing a Crisis

In this MFTV episode, PR experts discuss crisis communications best practices that will help you prepare for misfortune—no matter when it may occur.

Soft-Selling Your Technology Services Through Thought Leadership

From cloud connectivity to cyber security, it seems like almost every technology company is expanding their communication services. However, having the most extensive fiber route or the most customizable cloud configuration simply isn’t enough when it comes to landing new customers. Speeds, feeds, lines and features may sound like strong differentiators to service providers, but IT decision makers know all too well that solution capabilities, and their own business needs, change rapidly. In this fast-paced industry, C-Suite and IT professionals aren’t likely to jump at the latest solution to hit the market, rather they are more apt to make purchasing decisions based on brand affinity, reputation, and loyalty. With this in mind, we often recommend our clients consider executing upon a strategic thought leadership program to better position their company as a strong business partner.

How do thought leadership programs work?

After a company identifies the correct company spokesperson for its program—often based on factors such as the individual’s industry knowledge, product expertise, authenticity, and likeability—the next step is to identify and implement a series of communication tactics to position him or her as the company’s Subject-Matter Expert (SME). This can include setting up a speakers bureau so that the SME can speak at trade shows or customer events, pitching that SME for media interviews in targeted trade, regional, and national outlets; authoring a blog series portraying the SME’s opinions on various topics; or executing a social media engagement effort to build the SME’s personal brand.

With the right mix of communication tactics, a thought leadership program can help a company:

  • Evangelize company culture by using an SME who embodies brand values
  • Establish credibility through the expertise of their employees
  • Develop stronger rapport with customers/prospects by humanizing the brand
  • Deliver value to a topic and steer the direction of an industry conversation
  • Sell products and solutions through storytelling

What type of thought leadership content resonates the most?

Despite common misconceptions, audiences are not looking for your SME’s opinions to be all that differentiated from the industry standard. In fact, many SMEs who cover topics like cyber security will naturally emphasize the same key advantages of implementing network and cloud security solutions. However, audiences want to find the best answers to their questions; and if you have the right SME—one who is well-respected, knowledgeable, and trustworthy—your company will be able to do just that. By addressing customer pain points, industry changes, and the latest trends, your SME can become the “go-to” authority.

From the public relations perspective, thought leaders can play a valuable role in “soft selling” products and/or services without ever hinting at promotion. The best SMEs are those individuals who are respected within the industry and trusted by customers and prospects alike; therefore your target audiences will find value in hearing what they have to say. SMEs can talk about solutions in terms of capabilities vs. features and dance on the line of vendor neutrality when discussing “hot” topics. Company thought leaders are not your salesmen, they are your influencers; this is a subtle, but important, distinction.

To learn more about creating a thought leadership program, contact Jenny LePore at Martino Flynn.

The New Instagram Update Is Perfect For Brand Storytellers

On Wednesday, Instagram announced that users will be able to combine up to 10 photos and video in a single post. The new Instagram update comes from community members looking to share more than just one moment in their feed—which is great news for brand storytellers and influencers.

Brands and influencers will no longer need to select one photo or post multiple times to share content with Instagram followers—adding depth to social storytelling.

Looking to test out the latest Instagram feature? It’s simple to assemble the slideshow-like gallery in just four steps.

Step 1:

Add photos to a gallery by tapping the plus icon at the bottom of the screen to upload a photo like you usually would. Then, tap the new icon in the bottom-right corner to select up to 10 photos and videos.

 

Step 2:

Adjust the order of the gallery by holding an image and rearranging the order in which you would like it to show up.

Step 3:

Edit images with all the standard Instagram filters. Note that the location tags, captions, like, and comments will apply to the entire slideshow gallery.

Step 4:

Post! Four blue dots along the bottom of a multi-photo post will indicate that followers should swipe through the post like a slideshow.

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