HOW TO LEVERAGE YOUR POSITION AS A FOUNDER OR CEO TO ATTRACT FREE PUBLICITY AND BUILD YOUR BRAND WITH PR
Once clarified that brands are not built with advertising but with a consistent PR strategy, there is a question that needs to be answered:
Who should be the person in charge of dealing with the media?
If you have read the book Visual Hammer by Laura Ries, the answer seems to be simple:
“If you want to make your company famous […] then you also have to make your chief executive famous too. The founder of a company benefits from celebrity worship in two ways: (1) Everyone wants to know something about the person who runs a company. (2) Everyone assumes the products and services of that company to reflect the value of the founder. When you are both, as Steve Jobs was, the PR potential is doubled.”.
If you have a look at the main technological disruptors in the last decades, the companies involved are usually associated with a celebrity founder who is generally positioned as the visionary that can lead humanity to a brighter future through technological development and change:
When widely established large corporations are unable to find a specific spokesperson for the media, due to the founder being gone or other internal organizational reasons, they often look for external celebrities to endorse their products for advertising campaigns.
However, there is a problem.
When a company relies on a celebrity who has been outsourced, it can incur into two possible problems that could damage not only its brand positioning but also it’s reputation:
Thus, putting your reputation in the hands of another person's reputation can be extremely dangerous and, consequently, not a clever move at all.
When it comes to building a brand (and you can build a brand just with PR), the news tends to be attracted by what may be newsworthy.
A founder or a CEO should be able to use the power of media as a cluster bomb, able to reach different targets with a single shot that might be a newspaper article or an interview on radio or television.
What you want to achieve are two different but simultaneous goals:
Building your credibility is itself a three- step process requiring different techniques and strategies to be adopted, leading you progressively toward better and better results:
All the above stages are different in terms both of visibility and credibility.
An Expert tends to attract less publicity then an Authority.
An Authority tends to attract less publicity then a Celebrity but more than an Expert.
A Celebrity tends to attract more publicity than both the Authority and the Expert.
The Celebrity status can allow you as a founder or CEO to reach an extremely powerful goal:
You are able to drive more free publicity than anyone else in your industry, thus becoming not only the spokesperson for your company but also the spokesperson of the entire market niche where you operate.
The Celebrity status is a monopoly status.
The Celebrity is the one who monopolizes attention.
Furthermore, due to well defined psychological principles, people tend to associate themselves with the celebrity that is commonly perceived as the successful one.
People buy success and associate themselves with anyone or anything that can convey them the status of being successful, too.
For this basic mechanism of psychological compensation, people do not buyt products but both people and brands.
The product is just the intermediary in an exchange of perception.
When customers buy products, they do not do so merely for the problem it solves but also for the social perception of being associated with that product.
This is the main strategy employed by many successful brands in the last decades of over competitiveness:
Perception First. Product Last.
Quoting Laura Ries in Visual Hammer:
“Social pressure, amplified by social media, plays an important role in what brands consumers buy or don’t buy. People make statements with the brands they choose. They often want everybody to know what those brands are.”.
This is a supreme secret many marketers often forget as they are too busy spending the company's money trying to force the product into the market just because they, not their prospects, think it is the best conceived idea in all human history.
According to the action identification theory described in an essay by Hans Baumgartner and Rik Pieters in the Handbook of Consumer Psychology, the consumer’s goal-oriented behavior usually follows a precise three- step direction:
Thus, big corporations that can’t rely on the founder-celebrity outsource a celebrity that can switch on the identification process and then motivate the potential consumer to buy the product that the brand promotes.
If you read online newspapers on a daily basis you will see that founders who are also the CEO never miss a chance to get publicity.
They know extremely well that the actual value of their company is a direct consequence of the perception of their company's value.
If you want a tangible case study, think about Tesla or Amazon.
Tesla and Amazon keep attracting hundreds of millions in investments, and their value on the market continues to grow.
How can Tesla and Amazon attract hundreds of millions in investments and have a stock value that constantly increases without any present tangible certainty on their positive income?
Because of a perception: the perception that 20 years from now, investors will have all their money back with exponential interest.
However, Tesla and Amazon can’t personally answer questions from the press. Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos can.
They are the celebrity CEOs who have now monopolizsed any single news story concerning next generation technology or retail innovations.
What is the positioning that you, as a founder or CEO, could build around your personal brand that can allow you to attract more consistent positive publicity (even on a local basis) and get more media coverage?
The potential to exploit a specialized new category in today's business arena is limitless.
You just need to find the right key and have enough persistence to establish your credibility.
“Marketing is not a short-term fix […] Marketing is a long-term proposition. Don’t think in years, think in decades”. (Laura Ries, Visual Hammer)
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Founder and Managing Director at POWER BRAND. PR that Sells for Startups and SMEs,
How to turn your content into a PR advocate
Why you should write a book from a PR perspective
How to use PR to disqualify your competition
How to get media coverage by giving the media what they want
Brand Positioning. Broadcast PR. Brand domination.