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3 Tips for Transforming Consultants into Thought Leaders with PR

Take a B2B company with no products, but an array of distinct services—how would you market it?

If you're a professional services firm marketer, this scenario should sound familiar. Whether your organization specializes in law, architecture or management consulting, generating leads and closing new business starts with selling your experts.

Professional services marketers depend on a variety of methods for promoting their people, from industry conferences and webinars to email newsletters. Increasingly, firms are adding public relations to the mix to elevate their subject matter experts into recognized thought leaders. Compared to other marketing tactics, generating media placements brings awareness and third-party credibility to professional services brands and their people.

Business Meeting in an office

With the number of marketing tools and channels growing exponentially, why invest in PR?

  • It delivers a healthy ROI: Professional services firms devote some of the smallest slices of their budgets to marketing. PR allows marketers to do more – and reach wider audiences – with limited resources. Just one placement can result in thousands of brand impressions and, in best-case scenarios, a valuable lead.
  •  It extends the life of existing content: Most professional services firms stuff their websites with content: white papers, case studies, presentation decks. But content can only do so much buried in an "Insights" section. These assets make valuable fodder for media relations, inspiring interviews and bylines even months after they were originally published.
  • It supplements what you're already doing: PR doesn't operate independently of other marketing tactics; it enhances them. Amassing contributed articles and commentary for your consultants cements their thought leadership status, helping them land notable industry awards and speaking engagements.

Garnering valuable media placements for your experts is part art and part science, but it's not rocket science. Walker Sands recently released a white paper that details six steps to building consultant though leadership through PR, such as:

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  1. Gather your spokespeople: Planning any media relations campaign begins with identifying your experts. This group might include practice area leaders, executives, and consultants with previous media experience or in-depth industry knowledge. Build a spokesperson matrix that outlines who your experts are and which topics they can comment on to inform each consultant's personal brand progression (and take the hassle out of coordinating media opportunities). Don't be afraid to get granular and include spokespeople's focus area by both industry and function, such as financial services M&A, healthcare technology or retail staffing.
  2.  Determine where to direct your efforts. Next, you need to understand where your audiences get their news. Business decision-makers don't limit themselves to The New York Times or Bloomberg. They follow a range of mainstream and trade publications, including regional business journals, dailies and niche industry blogs. Develop an outreach plan that addresses each of these media properties in order to yield comprehensive results.
  3.  Find the right media contacts. After outlining your target publications, you need to pinpoint relevant staff contacts at each. This step requires some digging – especially for prominent outlets that boast multiple editors and staff writers for each section – but the Internet is your friend. Most media websites post their masthead with direct contact information; even social media platforms like Twitter make it easy to search for contacts based on outlet and beat. Depending on the size and maturity of your program, you may consider paid media databases, which enable advanced and international contact searches.

To learn more about how PR can help you draw attention to your professional services firm's most valuable asset, download the full white paper today.