Don’t expect to stand out from the crowd if you’re saying the same things as everyone else.
The purpose of PR is to do two things; to raise your profile and to improve the perception of your company, product or brand. Essentially, to make you stand out, but only in a good way. PR agencies use a host of different tactics and tools to achieve this, including thought leadership and opinion pieces - content that, as well as demonstrating your knowledge and capabilities, offers a new take or perception on an industry topic.
Although thought leadership and opinion pieces have quite different purposes, they have two major similarities. Firstly, both of these types of content are based on new ideas. If you’re not introducing an original concept or presenting a unique perspective, then you’re not producing a thought leadership or opinion piece. Second, both approaches to content require an author that’s brave enough to stand out from the crowd.
Say something original
or risk getting lost in the crowd.
It’s a combination of these characteristics that most frequently leads to this type of content’s failure. Because, if the content that you’re sharing is unprecedented, then you can’t predict how your audience will react to it. And, while every company owner, CEO and marketing team will tell you that they want to share content that makes them stand out from the crowd, it’s quite scary to stand alone in the spotlight when you don’t know how your audience is going to respond to what you’re saying.
This fear of the unknown is why we end up with product sales pitches instead of think-pieces and opinion pieces that sit squarely on the fence – neither of which achieve their purpose of attracting any attention for your company.
How do you create content that is controversial enough to get noticed without alienating your audience?
Choose a topical subject.
Plug into key industry events and themes so that your content is relevant to current discussions and hot topics. Keep the topic broad so that it’s relevant to a wide audience for maximum exposure.
Pick an author with credentials.
Make sure that the person attributed with writing the piece of content is clearly identified as an expert in the industry and on that topic. If they’re not well-known in the sector, then include a biography and refer to their experience in the piece.
Back up everything you say with facts.
Even an opinion piece should be grounded in cold, hard facts that support your argument.
Weigh up the risks vs the benefits.
Sometimes the risk of alienating a small group can be outweighed by the increased exposure that controversial content can provide – as long as the people you’re alienating aren’t your target market!
It’s a delicate balancing act, but this kind of content can have fantastic rewards if you get it right.
Feel the fear and do it anyway!