Companies invest time and money in brand content because it generates leads and increases brand awareness. But where do you get ideas for new topics? In fact, a treasure trove of knowledge is at your fingertips — well, at least in your office. I’m talking about your company’s employees.
You already know that content marketing works best with materials rich in practical knowledge that your customers want to acquire. You are also aware that this kind of content is difficult to create. So, what’s the solution?
Good content marketers can write great texts based on their own knowledge and external sources, but let’s be honest — none of us is an expert on everything. We can do a lot of research and dive into the data, but our knowledge will never be as detailed as the knowledge of experts we work with on daily basis.
That is why I want to focus on how important it is for content marketers to access and use information from within the company and cultivate experts who will gain the trust of your potential customers.
Expert is expert
Here’s why it’s worth taking advantage of your own experts in your external communications:
- They’re very close to their main subject, and they follow market trends, making them ready to comment on current events in their fields.
- Most of them have years of experience and usually they don’t need long to prepare for interviews or to write a text as an expert; they often only need some simple media training.
- They inspire greater trust and are respected by the media. It’s simply a fact that no content marketer has the chance to build such authority among journalists like the head of the AI department with a PhD in data science can. People sometimes are a bit skeptical when they see a marketing or PR person talking about key areas of the company’s operations, such as sales or R&D.
Who can be an expert?
The first person who comes to mind is of course the CEO, because it is often someone who has been there from the very beginning and is up to date with information about the most important business areas and financial results. In this article, however, I do not want to focus on the role of CEO. You need to use his or her image and knowledge in marketing activities, but this is a topic for a separate post.
Experts that I recommend that you start with the heads of individual departments and high-level specialists. In the case of Synerise, they would be system engineers, software architects, R&D specialists, etc. Their knowledge can form the basis of a great piece of content. You can also reach out to other employees by talking to them and finding out what thoughts they have about their roles in the company. This can lead to surprising discoveries about the rich gathering of talent all around you.
Of course, this is just a tip of the iceberg. For example, imagine that your Chief Solution Architect can write a piece on how to make a choice between Microsoft Azure and Amazon Web Services. Your HR Manager can be an author of articles about employer branding. A front-end developer can work with you to create technical posts. Think about the experts in different departments and see how your content creation can benefit from their expertise.
Where can you use experts?
Every company employee, with the right support, can prepare material for a company blog. For those who are more open and experienced, LinkedIn and Medium are great to stay in touch with followers of your brand. Your role here will be mainly to suggest topics and validate texts.
For those most willing to become ambassadors of the company, I recommend Quora, where they can regularly answer questions from potential clients. People from client service departments and sales agents are great here.
You can also use experts for PR activities. When speaking to the media, diversify the sources you use. Go beyond the CEO and use several spokespersons to allow you to create the impression that the company possesses a wealth of knowledge at many levels. The Product Owner should speak about the product, not the President. Secondly, diversifying your communication makes your brand appear larger and less authoritarian when people other than the top corporate officers speak to the public.
Divide the work between you and the expert
The ideal scenario is to find people with experience in content preparation and media relations. Someone like this can propose new topics and blog on their LinkedIn profile, as well as collect interview proposals during participation in conferences and business events.
I wish every company could make full use of their potential brand ambassadors, and I know that every company has them. It’s just a matter of finding those unpolished diamonds scattered among the desks and computer monitors and helping them to fulfill that potential.
We all have our own preferred ways of getting things done. Personally, I like to conduct interviews with experts. We meet for thirty minutes or an hour, I take my recorder and we chat. Also, listening on update calls from different departments is a good way to pick up on interesting subjects.
When I’ve got everything recorded, I use it to start my text while checking with the person I chatted with as needed to clarify or expand or certain points. When it’s done, I decide along with the marketing department about when we use this content. The expert I interviewed is signed as the author of the piece.
10 steps for incorporating your own experts into brand content creation
- Make a review of who you have inside your company and get to know them as well as you can.
- Enhance your knowledge by finding out about where your employees appear in the media, blogs and other forums.
- Collect ideas for articles in the company using a questionnaire or other tools. Suggest a prize for the best article proposal. Ask your CEO or CMO to give the topic priority. Ideally, every employee provides at least one proposal within a few days from the request.
- When you have some background about people and their initial ideas, you can choose the first group of contributors. Choose those with the most experience and the most interesting ideas.
- Meet your new experts and discuss the form of the cooperation you want to start. Tell them what you expect and consult with their calendars. It would be good if they could spend a minimum of two hours a week working with you.
- Try to match your experts to individual sources at this stage. Who will be the best on LinkedIn or Quora? Who would be best suited to stand in front of the camera when it’s time for a television interview?
- Conduct media training for people who will deal with journalists. If you have experience in PR, do it yourself, but you can always bring in an external company.
- Make professional photographs of all your experts.
- Now you can start working on content. Conduct interviews/recordings and listen to what the experts have to say. Ask questions, have fun playing the journalist. Then write down everything in the form you have chosen before getting the expert to sign off on the final version.
- Every now and then, run an iteration of the “experts for content marketing” project. Check the results you get while always watching for new opportunities among new hires. Find the potential of the new employees, talk to spokespersons and collect feedback on needs and opportunities. Try to engage more and more people to write.
Last but not least
Take care of your expert resources, be forgiving and encourage them to be open and cooperative. As a content marketer, you must supervise the creation of materials by your experts and help them.
I’ve saved the most important thing for the end because it is also the biggest challenge. However, I hope that every modern company feels that it should act, and someone from the management board will listen to you. Including brand content in the company culture is the perfect way to create great atmosphere around knowledge sharing.
Convince your boss that it is worth trying it out to bring everyone on board and working toward the same goal. For the experts in your company, it is also an opportunity to appear in the wider world and enhance their image as professionals. It’s great for the team and its individual members. That’s what I call a win-win situation!