LinkedIn as a Public Relations tool
While there is no ‘one-fits-all’ model in the sphere of digital B2B public relations, LinkedIn is arguably the most adaptable social-media platform in terms of strategic, specialist community-focused communications and message dissemination.
For communications professionals a LinkedIn presence has effectively become de rigueur. According to PR News Online, a 92% of journalists are now on the platform. This fact considered, in the context of public relations, it is crucial for result-driven practitioners to see beyond LinkedIn as a networking portal and engage with it as a communications platform.
PR objectives: In the context of a PR campaign, before engaging with LinkedIn as a communications tool it is essential to define the objectives of the effort, in terms of campaign or organisational aims.
Identifying communities: Central to defining your objectives when using LinkedIn as a campaign tool is to evaluate the relevance of the platform to your target audience. Does your audience constitute a community on LinkedIn? Is it possible to construct a community from a cohort of users for the purposed of your campaign, or the organisation’s long-term public relations and marketing strategies?
Identifying thought leaders: In order to maximise on the effectiveness of your strategy it is important to identify the key members of your target community, or the presence of pivotal competitors or comparative organizations or individuals who have developed an effective model for harnessing LinkedIn for PR and marketing purposes. Building relationships with influential users can result in the establishment of mutually beneficially links and endorsements across several platforms.
Define your message: It is important to ensure that your campaign or brand message, as it is to appear on the platform, is clearly defined. The message should encapsulate the core objectives of the wider campaign or the organisation. It should also sync with the organisation’s brand in terms of language and image. In this regard a professional level of copy writing is key.
Plan your content: Expanding from the definition of the company / campaign message and brand language, is the importance of the appearance of your LinkedIn page. This is defined by the categories, text mass, and elements (logos, images, links etc) that are relevant for inclusion. Again, good copy writing is vital: readers should not be over whelmed with extraneous detail; each element should be finely distilled, precise and uniform in tone.
The campaign / brand face: In order to create greater interest and reader engagement, brand confidence and though leadership status, it is productive to feature prominent team members. Profile text should be concise yet informative and accompanying images should appear professional. Each linked employee page should be policed to ensure that it is uniform in terms of content and brand language.
Linking platforms: In terms of using other social-media platforms, as with LinkedIn you must decide if they are relevant to the PR campaign or the organisation and if they actually contribute to achieving your objectives. In terms of company pages, plug-ins to twitter feeds and RSS feeds to company or employee blogs, are of unquantifiable value for the dissemination of messages; particularly if each element is managed in tandem and carries the same branding / message throughout.
Building your thought leadership status: Factors that are key to achieving thought leadership status include engaging with the discussions initiated by substantial voices in the community that are relevant to your campaign / brand. Posting regular blogs and initiate discussions with your relevant communities constitutes the next stage. Also, employing the variety of tools available on LinkedIn, such as Answers, will encourage readers to engage with content and return to the page – seeing it as an informative forum that also values their point of view.
These are just some of the many factors for consideration in the use of LinkedIn in a public relations campaign. At the end of the day, getting your hands dirty and exploring LinkedIn will develop your proficiency and creativity in this regard. However, the crucial hurdle to clear, it the key reevaluation of LinkedIn’s function, and the embracing of its capacity for communicating a campaign message and building brand awareness among relevant communities.