How To Be An Expert:
A Higher Profile Can Lead to Increased Sales for Your Company's Products, Services
by Karen Raugust (ARA) -- Company executives who become known as experts in their field
not only burnish their own reputations; their higher profile can also boost their
company's sales and profits by association. Many veteran businesspeople possess vast
amounts of knowledge and wisdom about their industries, but relatively few earn
reputations as experts.
The first key to becoming perceived as an expert is to raise your visibility among your
colleagues and the general public. The second is to become a source for useful, credible
information rather than for overtly self-promotional public relations. While the first
factor is understood by most executives, the latter can be difficult for some. They tend
to feel that their public profile must be accompanied by direct publicity about their
firm. In fact, the association of your name with opinions and data about your industry as
a whole lend credibility to you and your business. Self-promotion has the opposite effect.
Getting quoted in trade, business or consumer publications puts your name in front of
readers' eyes and makes them remember you. The article in which you appear does not have
to be a profile of you or your business; a simple statement that sheds light on a topic of
interest within a larger context raises your profile and that of your company.
Sending out regular press releases about new products, financial results, or other
company developments will help keep your business in editors' minds. Even if they choose
not to cover the story highlighted in each release, they will be likely to think of you
for future articles on your industry or area of specialization.
In this age of online research, one quote begets others, as editors search databases of
past articles for potential sources on a given subject. To increase your chances of being
quoted, make certain you respond to reporters' calls right away and try your best to
accommodate their deadlines. It is surprising how often companies send out media releases
containing contact information that invites follow-up interviews, but then do not respond
to reporters' requests for further information on that or another subject.
Do not attempt to control the interview or steer it toward topics you want to promote,
and avoid trying to work in the name of your company or its brands into every sentence.
One astute observation in the article is publicity enough. Simply listen to the questions
and answer them directly and completely. Remember to use complete sentences;
"yes" or "no" responses are not quotable.
Journalists and authors are always on the lookout for statistics and research that will
strengthen their stories. Sponsoring research, therefore, can be a method of getting your
company's name published frequently. Each time the research you have commissioned is cited
in print or on air, your organization should be credited.
The data your firm sponsors should address an unfilled niche so that it avoids
competing with respected data from established sources. Offbeat, humorous research can
serve a purpose by generating significant media play over a short period, but serious,
useful information will have a much longer shelf life and will apply to many different
types of articles over time. Its use is not limited to trade magazines; it can accompany
articles geared toward broader audiences as well.
The research can be conducted in-house, if you have staff with the expertise to compile
meaningful data, or outsourced to an independent firm. You should be prepared to update
the information as often as necessary to maintain its significance.
Appearing on panels or as a highlighted speaker at industry events is an effective
method of increasing your company's profile among peers. It is best to focus on industry
trends, how-to information, business forecasts or other topics of interest and, as always,
to avoid self-promotion. If you address the subject at hand in an organized, interesting
fashion, you and your company will gain recognition by association.
Some speaking engagements, particularly those for general business audiences, can
generate high speaker fees. The primary reason for saying yes to public appearance
opportunities, however, is to keep your company in the minds of your business colleagues.
Once you have gained a reputation as an expert through some of the other methods
outlined here, you will probably be invited to speak at industry events. If you are less
well-known, you or your publicist can contact the organizations that sponsor forums of
intrest. Send a letter stating your desire to be a speaker and outlining some potential
topics, along with a biography. This process may not lead to engagements right away, but
will help build a foundation for future appearances.
Even if you are pressed for time, preparing your remarks in advance is recommended.
Some executives practice delivering their speeches beforehand, with or without the
assistance of consultants who specialize in improving executives' public image.
Write an Article
Authoring an article in a magazine or newspaper is another effective way to gain the
aura of expertise. These efforts most frequently appear as opinion pieces or guest columns
in trade magazines, but some businesspeople write how-to or other styles of articles-or
even regular columns-in business publications or local newspapers. Writing such a piece
creates the perception among readers that you know what you are talking about, as long as
the work is well-researched, accurate, and to the point.
To submit an article, send a one-page letter to the Editor, Managing Editor, or
Articles Editor listed on the publication's masthead. Succinctly propose your idea and
outline how you will support your points, who you will interview, and why you are the
right person to write the piece. (Send along a copy of your resume as well.) Be familiar
with the publication to which you are submitting and slant the article toward its needs.
Once the piece is accepted, most magazines will supply writers' guidelines and
editorial assistance to contributors.
Write a Book
Writing a book is perhaps the ultimate path to becoming recognized as an expert. Some
books by executives contain information and advice pertaining to a specific industry and
are therefore tailored to a narrower audience, while others are memoirs or general
business books that appeal to a wider readership.
Check bookstores for titles that you respect and that are compatible with how you
envision yours. Approach the publishers who released these books. Send them a proposal
containing a brief summary of your idea, a description of the target audience, a list of
books that could be considered competition, a general idea of how long it will take you to
complete the book, and an outline of the planned content.
There is no need to send the finished manuscript or to write the book before submitting
your idea. The act of putting together the proposal will help you hone your thoughts; if
your concept cannot be easily explained in your proposal or if you do not have adequate
information to create an outline, either you have not given your idea enough thought or
your concept is inappropriate for a book-length work.
Investigate Using a Collaborator
Executives often find they lack the time, inclination or expertise to prepare a speech
or to write an article or, especially, a book. If so, they have they option to seek out an
independent contractor such as a ghostwriter, collaborator, publicist, consultant or
speechwriter. Some businesspeople may find that completing the project on their own is
more fulfilling personally but, in many cases, these professionals help speed the process.
They may even represent the difference between simply hoping to become an expert and
actually becoming one.
Karen Raugust is a Minneapolis-based independent business writer. She contributes to
more than 20 trade and consumer publications, ranging from Publishers Weekly and Animation
World to Produce Business and American Artist. She has also written five books, including
Merchandise Licensing for the Television Industry (Focal Press), and has contributed
chapters to several books by other authors. Her company, Raugust Communications, provides
editorial and marketing consulting services to entertainment companies, artists, nonprofit
groups and other business organizations.
Courtesy of Article Resource Association, http://www.aracopy.com
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