I’m frequently asked about some of the strategies I implement when I am working on positioning an executive as a recognized authority in a particular market segment or industry.
This is a discussion I always enjoy having because executive positioning is one of my favorite jobs in strategic communications and an area where I have specialized for over fifteen years.
I began my work in executive positioning while serving as the agency lead for the global launch of IBM’s telecom business unit.
It was my job to proactively position IBM as a leader in the telecom industry and the head of the unit as the face of the organization and an authority in telecom initiatives.
The result was a phenomenal amount of high-quality coverage in business, technology and vertical outlets worldwide where my executive was quoted extensively and where some incredible IBM leadership messages were placed.
Generating extensive quality coverage is always my number one goal when I develop and issue hard news. But successfully positioning an executive as an industry authority doesn’t happen based on a one-time launch or by issuing a single press release.
This is true no matter how significant the news and resulting coverage may be and no matter how proactive I am with influencers during the news cycle.
My experience has taught me that it takes multiple ongoing proactive strategies – each designed to continuously expand the credibility and visibility of the executive I am working with – to firmly establish an executive as an authority in a particular industry or vertical market segment.
I typically begin an executive positioning program by developing a flexible and far-reaching communications plan that includes messaging, leadership positions and stories and potential stories the executive can talk about with ease.
I ensure that the executive is media trained and able to communicate messages comfortably, conversationally and under a wide range of interview scenarios.
Once these requirements are in place, my number one executive positioning strategy usually turns to proactive outreach targeting industry analysts and traditional and social media influencers.
I tend to develop preliminary outreach strategies based on how well-known the executive – or the company or initiative the executive represents – is in markets where I am working to place messages and drive visibility.
If I’m starting from scratch, which is often my preferred method of working, my proactive strategies usually start with resource outreach, a term I coined a decade or so ago when I was working on executive positioning programs in the digital identity management and security and privacy sectors.
Resource outreach focuses on education and means I am working proactively to ensure influencers understand exactly who my executives are, where they fit in the industry and the stories they can participate in and tell.
One of my main resource outreach tactics is to offer my executive as a spokesperson influencers can call on at any time – and any time is an important message – for comment and input on relevant competitor moves, breaking industry news and current and future trend and feature stories.
Resource outreach has helped me integrate my executives into a wide range of important stories influencers always have in the works and on the horizon.
This strategy has also proven to be a valuable tactic for establishing strong long-term relationships between my executives and the influencers who matter most to meeting client positioning and visibility goals.
Coverage resulting from resource outreach is usually right on the money from a messaging and positioning point of view largely because initial outreach focuses so heavily on education. This coverage can be extremely powerful when resource positioning leads to one of my executives showing up in a story that was meant to be about a direct competitor.
Resource outreach was extremely successful during the launch of IBM’s new business unit. Some of the successes were demonstrated over and over again when other major vendors began rolling out their own telecom initiatives and influencers targeted as part of resource outreach regularly called me to get IBM’s perspective on those moves.
Since then I’ve incorporated resource outreach into many of my most successful executive positioning campaigns. These proactive programs have featured executives from Alcatel, AOL, BMW, Intel, Nokia and Oracle – and have focused on many of the most important trends in the data center, enterprise cloud, security, privacy, identity theft and identity protection sectors.
Resource outreach has proven to be a valuable proactive tool for driving a wide range of industry analyst, media and social media coverage. This is why resource outreach is always an important part of the conversation whenever I am asked to discuss best practices for executive positioning. – Russ DeVeau