How to make your client a subject-matter expert

How to make your client a subject-matter expert

How to make your client a subject-matter expert

By Kaitlyn Kotlowski | Posted: January 23, 2014
Smart PR practitioners know that it’s integral to strategic communications to have a client you can confidently and consistently put forward as a subject-matter expert. 

Whether you’re trying to pitch a fresh story, “news-jack,” or prep a conference speaker proposal, having a go-to expert with the right background is crucial to many a PR campaign’s success. Executives who can demonstrate superior understanding of issues and trends can earn the profile of a trusted industry insider, which only helps PR pros garner publicity on a client’s behalf. In short, if your client isn’t one already, it’s time to make him or her an expert.

Here are some ways to establish your client as a subject-matter expert:

Home in on a topic and own it. Subject-matter experts are people who know a subject inside and out. Figure out precisely the topic on which your client can shine. Sometimes, the more arcane or obscure, the better. For example, there are a lot of retail marketing experts, but perhaps your client is an online retail marketing expert who specializes in imported footwear. Be as specific as possible.

Encourage continuous learning. Truly great subject-matter experts are eager to amass even more expertise, and good PR pros can help. Set up relevant conversations with other industry folks for your client, share applicable videos to his/her industry, recommend networking events to attend, etc.

Develop authentic, useful content. Subject-matter experts can create more of a name for themselves by publishing timely, useful, in-depth content. Whether this content is shared via a personal blog, the company website or through bylined articles in key outlets (ideally a combination of all), it’s important to get it out there.

Don’t be selling. The expertise you’re sharing should be relevant to the brand, with credit to the client company, but it should never come across as a sales pitch. Content that’s overtly commercial will hurt your case rather than help it.

Take advantage of speaking opportunities. Speaking opportunities on panels and seminars, particularly at major industry conferences, are a great way to get your expert out there and “strut their stuff.” Most conferences have reporters in attendance, which provides an excellent opportunity for the expert to get the recognition he or she deserves.

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Keep it social; keep it current. As a subject-matter expert, your client must be on company and other social media platforms putting his/her insights out there. Be mindful about keeping it fresh. 

Nothing says “no, thanks” quicker than a stale blog post from last spring. Although time-consuming, it will raise your client’s profile and keep him or her at the top of the must-have industry source list. 

Kaitlyn Kotlowski is an account supervisor at Crenshaw Communications. Follow her on Twitter@kaitanne. A version of this story first appeared on the agency’s blog, PR Fish Bowl.