In today’s dust storm of fake news and declining trust in the press, it is more important than ever to look beyond traditional media relations. Professional services marketing plans must encompass a variety of tools and tactics for effective, transparent communications.

Communicators are the driving force behind how both firms and individual industry experts/thought leaders are represented; what messages are shared and how. You’re relied on to manage brand reputations – and a good reputation requires trust. Scrutinize your firm’s marketing and PR strategy. But being smart about where you place your media bets is only part of the solution. Now is the time to diversify to other communications tactics.

You Don’t Need Media to Tell Your Professional Services Marketing Story

Here are six ways to share your firm’s story and expertise, while building credibility and trust with your audience.

Control your message with content marketing.

Why wait for the media to tell your story when you can tell it yourself? Create and share informational and educational content that tells a story: about how you are impacting your area(s) of expertise, helping clients solve problems and abide by a changing business, legal or regulatory climate. Videos, infographics, thought pieces, case studies are powerful tools to share this story. Remember, you should stay objective and think like a journalist to create content that resonates and isn’t just hype. But you get to control your message.

Make your website a news source.

Your website is your home base. It is a place where you want your clients and prospects to return time and again. Seize the opportunity to highlight your strengths and expertise on the site. But don’t just talk about your practitioners and practice areas. Rather, focus on relevant trends and stories in the industries where you have (or want) clients. Blog, share all the content you’ve created, curate industry news, or even invite your clients for guest commentary.

Focus on friends + family first.

Chances are you already have a database of contacts and current and former clients that could be excellent referral resources. Talk to them directly. Whether you share a simple newsletter or engage in sophisticated marketing automation, email marketing is among the most underrated tactics to build relationships and brand trust.

Email marketing is among the most underrated tactics to build relationships and brand trust.Click To Tweet

Go to the party and socialize.

Unlike traditional media, social media gives brands a chance to interact directly and immediately with their customers and prospects. Engagement is the key to using social media to build trust. The best way to lose credibility is to simply post the most basic information about your firm. Instead, consider social as the place to listen, entertain, teach, ignite discussions and gain feedback.

Connect with the power players.

Much of the appeal of media coverage is the third-party credibility it offers. Another way to gain credibility by association is to build relationships with people who have established authority and influence over your target audience. This includes highly-networked clients, industry thought leaders, academics, or even celebrities. Form a relationship with them directly via social, email and with live meetings and discussions. Then give them a reason to share your story and content within their circles.

Speak directly to your audience. 

Despite the increasing influence of digital platforms, the power of live, face-to-face interaction cannot be beat. Connect directly with your clients and prospects, and those who influence them in places they are already gathering: meetings and conferences. Whether it’s a chance to deliver a keynote speech, participate in a lively panel discussion or fireside chat, or talk one-on-one with a decision maker, conference opportunities that connect you with local business groups and organizations offer direct ways to spur conversation and generate demand.

Communicators, we can no longer rely on media coverage alone to share stories and build your firm’s credibility. It’s time to re-evaluate your professional services marketing and PR strategy and avoid the media relations minefield. Minimize reputation risk and rebalance your investments toward more direct ways to connect with your audiences.

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A professional corporate "storyteller," Brian has more than 21 years of experience in media relations and corporate strategic communications in a variety of industries including finance, healthcare, technology, consumer products and nonprofits. As media director, he works with the Stern team and its clients to identify and apply the latest media relations trends and tactics to secure high-quality media placements and thought leadership opportunities. Off the clock, he creates his own stories with his wife of 10 years and two young children.