|Lori A. Russo|
In case you've forgotten, LinkedIn is rife with opportunities to increase brand awareness. Not only can PR professionals build a community of customers and clients, they can connect with journalists and media on the site. Perhaps its targeted engagement capabilities are taken for granted.
It's time, now, to put down your iPhone and stop Instagramming your latest Pinterest pin, for just a minute, and see how LinkedIn can boost your PR efforts. Social Media Summit/Taste of Tech speaker Lori A. Russo, managing director of Stanton Communications, covers four areas of opportunity.
1. Message Control – LinkedIn does a great job of auto-populating content in your profile and your company page, but relying on default language doesn’t do you any favors. By making a few small changes, you can position yourself and your company higher in search results. "Use language describing your expertise rather than listing your job title in your personal headline. Change phrases in your bio that no one would ever search for, like “Company Web site” and “Blog,” to more descriptive terms like “Baltimore PR firm” and “PR and Strategic Comms Blog,” says Russo. Finally, you have the option of editing and adding to your company page, so do it. "Customizing the content and adding 'Services' tabs enables you to differentiate your page from many of the others out there," says Russo.
2. Research Prospects – If you are pitching a new piece of business or creating a list of prospects to proactively pursue, LinkedIn is a valuable tool for identifying mutual connections that could help you in the process. "Asking a shared point of contact for an introduction is perfectly acceptable if you explain why you are looking to connect," says Russo. "Also, professional bios often include personal interests that can be used to spark a discussion."
3. Explore Opportunities in “Answers” – LinkedIn Answers enables you to position yourself, your colleagues and your clients as subject matter experts. Monitoring for questions is easy, and relevant opportunities can be delivered directly to your RSS reader. "If you know you want to get in front of someone at a prospect you’re pitching or a company you want to partner with, proactively search for questions they are asking or discussions they are participating in and jump in," says Russo. "And don’t be afraid to spread the wealth—you are not always going to be the best resource, so pass the opportunity along to someone who is."
4. Create New Groups/Subgroups – Use LinkedIn Groups to connect with new people and participate in discussions about what interests you. But it’s very easy to get lost in the crowd or become overwhelmed by posts that are self-promotional or irrelevant, says Russo. Consider starting a new group that focuses on a specific industry or discipline and invite like-minded connections to join. "You can guide the discussion and help make the experience more valuable for members," says Russo. "If you participate in a group such as the Public Relations & Communications Professionals group, and want to leverage the power of its 43,000 members, think about starting a subgroup as a way to filter out some of the noise and establish yourself as an expert in an area where you excel." PR News, by the way, also has a group that you should join—if you haven’t done so already.