A few weeks ago I conducted an exclusive interview with two of LinkedIn's leading tech ladies, Sarah Clatterbuck and Erica Lockheimer, alongside PR Manager Kenly Walker. We talked about everything from how to ensure your LinkedIn connections aren't aware of your stalking habits, to how the company's "women in tech" initiatives are setting an example for other public companies and laying the foundation for the next generation of STEM-focused gals.
After the interview (because I may or may not be obsessed with all-things-PR) I asked them if they could kindly cull together a list of ways in which everyone from PR professionals to startup founders can leverage all of LinkedIn's amazing features to enhance both internal and external communications strategies.
Well, needless to say, they did better than cull. They immediately put me in touch with Senior Director of Corporate Communications, Catherine Fisher, so we could sit down and talk "PR shop." Whether you're a seasoned PR professional, an entrepreneur, or simply looking to raise your professional profile, Ms. Fisher's insightful and useful tips will be a stellar way to round out your PR toolbox.
LinkedIn can help you strengthen and amplify your internal and external communications strategies.
#1 - Humanize Your Brand with Your Employees, Senior Executives and Thought leaders: Whether they are in the corner office or in a cubicle right beside you, your best advocates are sitting right down the hall. Smart companies are tapping their employees to write and share content.
Dan Roth, LinkedIn Executive Editor, recently shared, "The best of them are actively encouraging their employees to get their voice out there--by supporting their writing, suggesting content for them to comment on and share or making suggestions of what people might want to tackle and then curating and sharing the posts."
In fact, "on average, according to our data, the employees of a company have 10 times the social following that their company has." A company that is doing it well is Dell.
#2 - Company Page: Consume and share content on LinkedIn as a company. Does your company reign supreme in healthcare PR, or does your CEO often provide expert analysis surrounding the latest millennial marketing trends? Make sure your company has a LinkedIn Company Page and gain followers by sharing updates like employment branding and career opportunities, fun industry-related facts and quotes, and an inside look into your company's corporate culture via executive and employee interviews. It enables your company to share news and insights with LinkedIn's 364+ million members.
#3 - Gain insights from top industry leaders known as "Influencers" on LinkedIn's Pulse.
Ever wonder how Arianna Huffington built her media empire or what Ryan Holmes, CEO of Hootsuite, foresees will be the next big thing in social media? In addition to members publishing content on LinkedIn, you can check out LinkedIn Influencers, around 500 of the top minds in business like Bill Gates to Richard Branson who write and share on topics like entrepreneurship and social good, for the latest news and insights affecting the business world today.
#4 - Reinforce the value of authenticity, not promotion.
Chairman and CEO of Kaiser Permanente and LinkedIn Influencer Bernard J. Tyson's examination of race relations in response to Ferguson reached half a million people on LinkedIn. Why? The authenticity and passion that resonated from Tyson's post not only brought positive attention to him as an influential thought leader, but also drew positive recognition for his company just by virtue of the post.
A robust LinkedIn profile is your ticket to a variety of professional opportunities like jobs, mentorships, new business ventures, and referrals.
#5 - A picture is worth a thousand words. First impressions count in PR, so make sure your profile conveys who you are as a professional. In fact, profiles with a photo are 14 times more likely to be viewed than those without. Follow The LinkedIn Guide to the Perfect #WorkSelfie to capture the perfect lighting, angles, and environment to best illustrate you in your PR setting.
#6 - Don't bury the lede with a lackluster headline or lifeless summary. Your title is already listed in your experience section, so use your headline to differentiate yourself and grab the attention of others. Do you pride yourself on being an evangelist for health and wellness clients? Are you known for being a consummate connector? Your summary is the real estate to focus on career accomplishments, aspirations and to show a bit of flair. In fact, a summary of 40 words or more makes your profile more likely to turn up in searches.
#7 - Focus on the quality of your connections not the quantity, and leverage search to reach out to new contacts (media). PR professionals come across so many people at work, but keep in mind your network is an extension of your professional brand. We advise only connecting with those you know and trust. Send a connection request with a brief, personalized note to the producer you worked with on a great broadcast segment, not the cameraman you briefly chatted with in the elevator.
#8 - Show, don't just tell who you are as a professional, and be your own best publicist on LinkedIn. Do what you do best, and use LinkedIn to publicize your professional brand to the world. Give a dynamic, visually appealing presentation of your professional story by uploading presentations, portfolios, and articles you've secured for clients to demonstrate your PR prowess. Broadcast to your network how the fruits of your labor culminated in an award-winning event or exclusive story in the Sunday business section by sharing an article link in a status update.
#9 - Receive a stamp of approval through recommendations and endorsements. Ask for recommendations from clients, former co-workers and employers to make your profile go that extra mile. Do the legwork for them and provide the specific qualities or project examples you'd like them to highlight. For your skills section, select the ones you want to be known for and list them starting with the most important to you at the top. HINT: You can (and should) always reorder your skills, add new ones and delete others as your career goals change.
#10 - Grow and engage your network. Actively engage with your network by posting status updates, joining and participating in Groups, and blogging on LinkedIn. Share links, articles, images, inspiring quotes, or anything else that may interest your connections via status updates. Did you learn compelling B2B marketing strategies at a recent conference you attended? Share a photo from the event in a status update and tag the event organizer.
BONUS: You can also strengthen your PR reputation and grow your reach by blogging on LinkedIn. Publish long-form content to deeply explore topics that matter to you such as the state of the media industry or your best pitching tactics, and then monitor the comments to see your impact.
As you can see, LinkedIn is no longer just about making connections with other business professionals or simply finding jobs. It has become a one-stop-shop for communicating thoughts, ideas, experience, and useful information in a conversation driven, two-way public relations world.