By 2 months ago in Socialised

Why brands should have a voice

Let me set the scene; Manchester United’s Manager Alex Ferguson has announced his retirement, millions of football fans all over the country are mourning the era of their great leader and as ever, the press loves it!

At the time, I was working with a brand who is an expert in financial trading, and during one of our conversations, I asked them how they felt about the NYSE (New York Stock Exchange) which Manchester United were listed on at the time.

I received a comment back within minutes with their opinions; I sent this onto a few highly influential journalists and in just a couple of hours, we had managed to gain multiple pieces of coverage which were spreading all over national news channels.

As a digital marketer working as part of an agency; we often have to communicate with varying industries and target audiences on a daily basis. This is what gives agency-life its variety and often, its appeal; but sometimes it can be pretty tricky as each community has different traits. For example:

  • Some are more vocal than others
  • Some are harder to access
  • Each has different influencers setting the trends

This is just a sample of the hurdles we have to overcome every day when creating and implementing digital PR campaigns. However, there is one tool that each brand can utilise to solve this; that tool is a voice, an opinion, something which makes them human and separates them from their competition.

How to amplify your voice

Timing is key. A story which breaks in the morning will be old news in the afternoon. You’ll need to monitor the news regularly and be ready to act when the right story comes to light. If you’ve managed to get the timing right, there are three simple steps in order to achieve digital coverage:

  1. Talk to the influencers
  2. Post your views to your following
  3. Get in touch with relevant journalists

Sounds pretty simple, right? Well, not really, you’ll want to stand out from the crowd and make sure that you’re making news from the news story. Find a new angle; use your brand’s expertise to voice an opinion. It’s exactly this kind of activity that will make journalists and influencers listen.

Here’s my tip: Look for live blogs. If the story is a big event then there will always be live blogs on relevant publications, there are even some live blogs which run every day. For example, if the story is business related:

-          Cityam.com Live blog – daily news coverage from the city

-          Telegraph live blog – business and news

-          Guardian live blog – business daily coverage

-          BBC live blogs – business daily coverage

Understandably, not all brands will be able to gain coverage on business related live blogs, but you get my drift. It’s only a matter of picking up the phone, ringing a relevant journalist and offering them something unique, different and most of all, relevant and newsworthy.

It’s also worth noting that you should interact with your niche and your followers. Find out their feedback, their thoughts and opinions and take them on-board. Understand what it is that your audience wants to know and strive to answer it.

I can guarantee that this will not only pay off in terms of coverage, but will also increase brand awareness, engagement and make you an influencer in your own niche.

A little word of warning: Please tread carefully around negative press; it’s fairly easy to be misunderstood so listening to your audience is essential as you can then gauge their feelings around the subject before making your own stance known.

The press will chase you…but be patient

The fairy-tale ending we’re all chasing for is journalists actually wanting to speak to you; not the other way around, and this can be possible.

It takes time to build your brand awareness and authority but journalists will instantly start following your work if it’s genuinely of interest to their audience – don’t forget that they need to find relevant stories.

My suggestion would be to place a name next to each quote rather than a brand; this makes the content more relatable, more human and simply adds a face to the story.

It’s also worthwhile creating an author page on your site; this way, people will naturally follow what it is you’re saying and naturally link whenever they use your quote in an article.

Fit this in to digital PR campaigns

Although this so-called ‘news-jacking’ approach can have a highly positive impact on your digital presence, it shouldn’t be the only thing you focus on. It’s hard to plan as you never know when a relevant story might break. It might not happen for months and you’ll need to create another asset to your strategy which focuses around your target audience.

This asset will differ from brand to brand but whatever it is you are working with, do not be scared to accompany this with a voice. A quick example is a survey, please do not just push the results out but voice your opinion on these results. This makes the content more human, more trustworthy and will undoubtedly get better coverage!

All in all, it pays to have a voice but as digital marketers we need to understand how to get this right in order for that voice to be amplified and gain as much reach as possible.

Understand that even the quote/insight has to be relevant and newsworthy and this shouldn’t be seen as a quick-win tactic, but a method of increasing brand awareness and making your brand influential in their field of expertise.

Leave me a comment below if you’ve got any thoughts or questions on the above!

By at 3:39PM on Wednesday, 05 Feb 2014

With an extensive background in blogger outreach and Digital PR, David is one of our longest serving digital PR Executives. With an impressive back catalogue of successful PR campaigns; David has proven his ability to oversee the creation and implementation of digital PR campaigns in order to achieve national coverage, increasing brand awareness and engagement. Follow David White on Twitter.

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