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Public relations and social media are central to becoming a well recognised expert, but the challenge facing many entrepreneurs is figuring out how to make PR work for them.

Every person, brand and organisation has stories to tell that captivate audiences and resonate with people — that’s the very essence of PR. But the trick is to figure out what your story is, how you can share it with others, and how you use it to boost your profile as a thought leader. It’s a challenge, and one that I am very familiar with as an entrepreneur.

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I have been in social media and PR for two decades, but I didn’t reach success by resting on my laurels. It takes hard work, perseverance and determination, but when you are recognised as an expert in your field, people take notice. Increased sales, more paid speaking opportunities and more referrals are at your fingertips.

Like any successful strategy, you only get out what you put in.

Stepping into the world of PR doesn’t have to be overwhelming, and I have narrowed the path to PR and social media success to five simple steps. I call it the Unknown to Expert 5 Star System. It’s a system that I have created from 20 years experience, and one that I can honestly say does work.

By following these five steps, you will be equipped with the tools to boost your profile, become a recognised expert and start opening doors to new opportunities. Like any successful strategy, you only get out what you put in. It takes patience, practice and focus to succeed, but by following the five stages outlined below, success is within reach.

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1. Figuring out the Why

First thing’s first; to become a recognised expert, you need to determine the message you want to convey to the media. The trick is to figure out what your story is and try to see it through the eyes of the media. Anything from an innovation, new book or childhood memory has new potential if it’s packaged correctly, but it’s crucial to deliver a story that is compelling enough to hit the newsstands.

Secondly, you need to ask yourself why you are looking to build your profile as an expert. If it’s purely promotional, you will struggle to develop emotional connections with people. The key is to be transparent and genuine, and really believe in yourself. People will only consider you as an expert if you believe in yourself.

2. Setting the Stage

After determining what you want to achieve from PR, the next stage is to define your personal brand. Personal branding is central to how people perceive you, so it’s important to pick your niche and stick to it to avoid confusing your audience.

Developing an elevator statement or pitch is an important part of personal branding that clearly explains your role as a thought leader. Not only are they an effective way of making great first impressions, but they can also lead to new business and customers.

Developing an elevator statement or pitch is an important part of personal branding that clearly explains your role as a thought leader. Not only are they an effective way of making great first impressions, but they can also lead to new business and customers.

Finally, figure out who your target audience is. This will vary depending on your profession, but it’s important to define your audience from the beginning and keep it in mind while you progress through the five stages of the Unknown to Expert 5 Star System.

3. Turn on the Spotlight

At stage three, you’re starting to shine. You’ve done your planning and it’s now time to illuminate your role as an expert and thought leader. The first step is to create a personal website where you can promote yourself. A great website will not only increase your exposure online, but you will also gain more control over your online identity.

Blogging is another great tool to increase your profile and allow you to connect with your audience in an engaging way. Blogging takes time and effort, so be sure to do your research and consider your audience before taking to the keyboard. The key is to write often, and write well.

Another step to becoming a recognised expert is to network and build relationships with your audiences. Attend functions, connect with local businesses and make yourself known to anyone who’s interested. A good tip is to follow up with everyone you meet and keep in touch.

One of the most effective (and arguably most nerve racking) ways to boost your profile is to take to the stage. By raising your profile as a valued speaker for events, you will improve your credibility, create new opportunities and step closer to gaining that expert status. When researching potential speaking opportunities, consider where your target audiences are and what they are interested in.

4. Use the Media to Shine the Light

By star 4, your role as an expert will start to take shape. By this stage, you will start to use the media to share your expertise and reach the people that will influence your success.

Approaching journalists can be a daunting task, but the best way to get your story out there is to shape it in a way that’s attractive to the media. Journalists often only pick up stories that they consider to be newsworthy, so it’s worth taking the time to create a great angle. Creating strong relationships with journalists, knowing the publications your pitching to, and sending it to the right inbox is also worthwhile.

Interesting story angles may never see the light of day without a well-crafted media release. The key is to keep your target audience in mind, make it newsworthy and concise, and keep it simple.

One of the best ways to catch the media’s interest is to come up with a story angle that is relevant and engaging to their media outlet, but it has to be delivered to the right person at the right time. However you pitch your media release, follow up with the journalist or editor within the first three to five days so they keep it front of mind.

5. Own the Light

The final stage of the transformation from unknown to expert is to step into the social media spotlight. Social media is a critical step in developing your profile as a thought leader, and it’s an essential tool that allows you to communicate directly with your audience.

Before jumping into the deep end, take a moment to think about your goals and what you want to achieve from social media. Having a goal will help you to determine the platforms that will be the most effective for boosting your profile, and to manage your time online.

Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and LinkedIn are the most popular social media sites, but your objectives will help you to figure out which portals (whether it’s one or all of them) will help you to achieve the best results. The key is to keep it simple and engaging, and to post often. That way, you will stay connected with your followers, keep them interested, and open doors to new opportunities.

So there you have it; you have progressed from unknown to expert in just five steps. Congratulations! However, it’s not the end, it’s just the beginning.

The Unknown to Expert 5 Star System illuminates your path to success, but it’s a path that is ongoing. In fact, it never ends because success is a continuous cycle. Bios, media releases and speaking topics change over time and take a different shape as you evolve as an expert.

But by finishing the Unknown to Expert 5 Star System, you are illuminated and you are truly a known expert.

 

First published March 2015.

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