Charlie Miller, Associate Partner at Control Group, a NYC-based innovation strategy and technology design firm, met with Adam Balkin of NY1 to discuss its work with Royal Caribbean on the cruise industry's first-ever Virtual Balcony. Here is what Adam had to say:
A quick riddle for you. You're on a cruise ship. Your stateroom is on the inside part, so no windows. How is it possible that in that room, you could still have one of the best views on board? Well, Royal Caribbean's answer is to team up with high-tech design firm Control Group to create virtual balconies.
Ready Set Rocket, an award-winning digital agency, was featured in AdWeek for its first ever marketing campaign to leverage Google Glass as part of the launch campaign for Kenneth Cole’s new Mankind fragrance. In the article, reporter Garett Sloane explores the app Ready Set Rocket created for Google Glass and the campaign:
Kenneth Cole recently became the first advertiser to incorporate a Google Glass app into its marketing—just one of the new ways the Internet specs are used to sell products. “Even though the technology is still in the pilot program, we want to be looked at as an innovator and early adopter,” said Lauren Nutt Bello, partner at Ready Set Rocket, a firm working for Kenneth Cole.
So the agency built an app for Google Glass to go along with the launch of a new cologne. The theme of the campaign is gentlemanly behavior and encourages chivalry. The app prompts users to photograph themselves accomplishing a good deed a day for 21 days.
The effort could do some good for Google Glass’ image as well, since the new technology already faces a growing backlash. “One of the criticisms leveled at wearable tech is that it makes people more insular and more wrapped up in their devices rather than interacting with the world about them,” said Gareth Price, technical director at Ready Set Rocket.
Almost every business executive aspires to be regarded as a thought leader in his or her respective field. It comes with a lot of perks: gaining desired traffic, a huge following, exposure on other blogs, awards and even individual success such as making a name throughout an entire industry.
So how do you build a reputation as a singular expert — someone who doesn’t just participate in the conversation, but drives it? In a word: leverage.
No matter how brilliant and talented you are, you won’t be sufficiently appreciated within your industry or by your customers until the broader public recognizes you. This outside reinforcement becomes an echo chamber that offers respect and awareness.
But how does one become a respected thought leader? The same way you get to Carnegie Hall. Ask anyone how to get to Carnegie Hall and the answer will always be the same: “practice!”
Here are a few of my suggestions for jump-starting your thought leadership efforts:
- Become social. Blogs are a particularly good starting point because they showcase your knowledge — and search engines look for the frequent stream of fresh content. Good content is the key, of course, but so is making friends and connections (both online and offline) with other influencers and thought leaders in your industry and related industries by connecting on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or YouTube and sharing/liking and commenting on one another’s content.
- Generate Interesting Content. As you create your thought leadership strategy, it’s not enough to plan topics and then distribute. You have to understand how ideas evolve and spread. To be a true, sustainable thought leader, you have to remember there’s always something to gain from getting out of your comfort zone and looking beyond your product, service or industry and help the reader connect the dots to see the bigger vision, issue or opportunity that could affect them. True thought leadership is such a rare thing, but when it happens it’s very powerful.
- Guest Blogging. Once you’ve established some momentum, it’s time to branch out. Guest blogging allows you to share your thoughts on another industry site or blog. The best part of guest posting is that it allows you to enter an already-established community and share your message. Guest posts can be a good vehicle for building and sustaining thought leadership and associating your personal/corporate brand with a reputable news organization or influential blog.
- Get some press. Don’t shy away from promoting yourself. Identify the media that matters in your industry, monitor the headlines/news, and make it happen whether you choose to do it yourself or work with a PR firm. By gaining the extra visibility, you’re building mind share with third-party media organizations and exposing your personal/corporate brand to new audiences.
- Keep Current. Breaking news or fast-moving industry trends can be a great entry point for expressing your unique POV whether in the media or via your various content channels. By addressing the questions your customers are likely asking, you’re then providing value when and where it’s most needed.
- Stay In Good Company. A great way to solidify your reputation, cultivate relationships and/or foster new connections is to invite customers or partners to contribute to your blog. Better yet, I’m a big fan of the idea of interviewing customers/partners to create compelling content that puts you in good company while creating useful content. Also worthwhile is curating content from outside sources while adding your own perspective.
With all of these suggestions, the key is to not be “sales-y” or too self-promotional – that’s a huge no-no. It is really important to be completely neutral in your perspective. It’s not about you, your company or your product, but rather it’s about your (potential/existing) customer and your target audience.
What techniques do you employ to build a reputation as a thought leader?
As technology has evolved over the years, so too has the way we have consumed news. First, we had newspapers, then the radio, then TV, and then the Internet. Fast forward to this past year, the preferred news medium of choice included portable devices like tablets and smart phones. Consuming news and content on these devices has many benefits, most often due to the ability to quickly scan and engage with what we see while on the go.
The “short reads” afforded to us is a by-product of the busy 24/7 news and social media cycle, always plugged in, always on the go. The idea of short reads and quick consumption is a growing trend. Sources such as Buzzfeed that provide snapshots of the news are becoming increasingly popular. As consumers change the way they access information, we as PR professionals have to change our strategies to better reach them.
The new digital landscape has created new opportunities for how companies small and large handle PR. Here at WISE PR, we present a few collective PR vows for 2014 that we hope many others will also accept and embrace:
1. Consider the growing trend of “Snapshot” news. More and more consumers are reading and engaging with content in shorter quicker snapshots. Re-posting an article on Facebook, liking an article, tweeting about news, etc. It’s never been more important for PR professionals to keep things short, sweet and to the point. Don’t worry about a lengthy press release or the over-involved pitch, list out your main points and why they are important.
2. Continue to research reporters and know them before pitching. Nothing is worse than hearing from a reporter who feels they are getting spammed by useless pitches and information. With reporters and bloggers writing and posting multiple stories daily, sometimes even hourly, things need to move quickly and you have to make sure you capture their interest just as quickly. Continually send too much information on politics to a lifestyle reporter and you’re either going to get radio silence or an ear-full.
3. Build more relationships. It really is about who you know. You’re going to find a lot more success pitching to someone you have an established relationship with than a complete stranger. Remember, you are just one among thousands pitching competing stories to the same reporter. Relationships can really help you stand out amongst the chaos and noise as well as create a future reference point. Meet people and learn more about them and what they’re interested in.
4. Adjust your strategy to fit the evolving traditional media ecosystem. The need to be multi-disciplined is increasing rapidly. Traditional media is shrinking, and shrinking fast, slowly making tools like the press release obsolete. We find ourselves increasingly doing work beyond the traditional boundaries of earned, owned, and paid media. We need to anticipate creating more content and content marketing, decide the best ways to use mobile media channels, consider native advertising if/when necessary, and learn how to use video, infographics, and events — when they are most effective.
The media ecosystem will continue to change as technology continues to advance, and it’s important that we as PR practitioners find ways to grow with it. Learn several skills, push content, build and nourish relationships, consider new creative ways to create content, and form new strategies for messaging.