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Turning Consultants into Thought Leaders: How to ace the follow-through

Business Meeting in an officeMost marketers and public relations professionals would agree: yielding a positive reporter response to a pitch is grounds for celebration. But once the initial excitement of a feature interview or contributed byline opportunity dissipates, there's plenty of work to be done to generate a valuable media placement.

For professional services firm marketers – who increasingly use PR to elevate their internal subject matters into respected thought leaders – the road from reporter interest to published article is filled with research, preparation and relationship-building.

Three tips for ensuring a media win

As we discuss in our latest white paper, How to Build Consultant Thought Leadership Through Media Placements, professional services firms rely almost exclusively on their people to attract and land new business. Transforming consultants into trusted media experts not only boosts their credibility, but also drives valuable awareness to your corporate brand.

Here are a few ways professional services firm marketers can work with their experts to guarantee strong interviews, bylines and media relationships.

Train early and often

At the start of any thought leadership campaign, consultants should undergo media training to get familiar with common interview techniques and pitfalls. Learning to tread lightly with phrases like "on the record" and honing the ability to navigate away from uncomfortable questions ("bridging") are important skills to master.

Before each interview opportunity, marketers should run through a media training refresh with their experts and provide ample background material related to the specific topic. Scheduling a brief meeting to brainstorm talking points, pull together outside research, and formulate a briefing document prepares consultants to answer questions confidently.

Think like a journalist

Writing like a marketer and writing like a reporter are far from interchangeable. The audience, tone and goals of a white paper differ vastly from that of a news article. With contributed opportunities, professional services marketers have to coach their consultants through producing an informative editorial piece, not an overtly promotional one.

Marketers need to research the publication's contributor guidelines (e.g., word count, sourcing policies, acceptable use of first-person) and do QA to make sure the draft adheres to them. Understanding a publication's audiences also helps create a stronger piece. Business Insider readers, for example, may not have the same level of financial services knowledge as American Banker Be mindful of these nuances when explaining certain concepts or dropping industry-specific terminology. Regardless of the outlet, avoid jargon and shameless company plugs.

Be a helpful source

For every few pitches you send out, you're likely to have at least one media contact respond asking for commentary on a separate topic for a story they're drafting. Being nimble in these situations helps reporters do their jobs, and increases the likelihood that they'll work with your experts in the future.

Marketers should also encourage consultants to make themselves available to reporters via phone or email for follow-up questions after an interview. Establishing direct lines of communication between the media and your experts nurtures those relationships, making it easier for consultants to become go-to sources in the long term.

To learn more about acing the follow-through,  download the full white paper today.