Two weeks ago, I talked about content strategy with a group of fine folks at the Fort Worth PRSA chapter meeting. As part of that presentation, we talked about a number of steps to set your content strategy. Conducting a content audit, identifying your content resources (I blogged about that last week). Developing content. And, distributing content.
Let’s just stop there for a moment.
Distributing content online largely revolved around a few key methods–social and email to name two.
But, there are a number of other ways brands are “distributing” content on the web today.
And, one of those strategies that’s flying under the radar is brands using executives and their LinkedIn profiles to advance PR goals and organizational priorities.
Sure, not all CEOs are active on LinkedIn. Heck, many of the Fortune 500 CEOs aren’t even on LinkedIn (at least not in any meaningful way as we learned earlier this week).
But, for a small percentage of those executives who ARE using LinkedIn actively, well, some of THOSE people are putting those profiles to good use–for themselves, and more importantly, the brands they represent.
Let’s take a look at six different scenarios, six different executives, that have used LinkedIn to advance their organization’s PR objectives:
Executive: Richard Edelman
Goal: Employee recruiting
How they used LinkedIn: This one will probably come as no surprise, but Richard Edelman uses his profile, in some cases, to advance the firm’s recruiting and retention efforts. In this post, he talks about the firms efforts to empower women and place them in leadership positions–which should be a no-brainer for a big firm like Edelman. After all, only about 95 percent of our industry is female (OK, I’m exaggerating, but I’ve been the only guy on multiple PR teams in the past). Smart use of Richard’s profile here and his position as a LinkedIn “Influencer”.
Executive: Angela Ahrendts
Goal: Shaping perceptions with employees
How they used LinkedIn: In this short post, Ahrendts shares insights around how she approaches a new job (you may have heard–she took a new job with Apple recently). Seems benign from a company perspective, right? But, the beauty of what Ahrednts is doing here is that she’s also shaping existing Apple employee perceptions. Sure, she can shape those perceptions through her actual work. But how many people does Ahrendts interact with on a daily basis? Through a post like this, she can reach so many more and share her thoughts and insights in the process (and in a different way through a public channel).
Executive: Meg Whitman
Organization: Hewlett Packard
Goal: Reinforcing strategic partnerships
How they used LinkedIn: For many businesses, dealers, vendors and “channel partners” are a key way organizations like HP sell their products and services. So, it behooves them to grease those wheels–regularly. For HP, that means holding a “Global Partner Conference” once a year where they hold up these partners for exactly what they are–champions to their success. So, it makes complete sense when HP’s CEO comes out on LinkedIn and shares that sentiment publicly, for all to see, on LinkedIn, right?
Executive: Bruce Broussard
Goal: Raising awareness for the brand
How they used LinkedIn: In this short post, Bruce uses LinkedIn publishing to talk about a timely topic and trend that’s impacting his business–the health insurance and health care worlds. It’s a thought leadership play of sorts. And, I’m surprised we haven’t seen more health care leaders using LinkedIn publishing in this way just yet. I expect we will see more in the months ahead as leaders repurpose content from other longer-form channels to LinkedIn (don’t scoff–it’s more common than you might think already).
Executive: Gary Kelly
Organization: Southwest Airlines
Goal: Shaping consumer brand perceptions
How they used LinkedIn: If you’ve noticed, LinkedIn is running a number of “themes” of LinkedIn posts for its “Influencers.” One of those themes: “Behind the scenes.” You probably saw a number of LinkedIn Influencers post on this topic recently. Gary Kelly, CEO of Southwest Airlines was one of them. But, he (and the company) took the opportunity to talk about SWA’s recent brand change. Through the post, Gary talks about the process the company went through to update and transform the brand. It’s not the most ground-breaking process, but the fact that SWA chose to use Gary’s LinkedIn profile to share this news (among other platforms) actually is pretty innovative.
Executive: Jeff Jones
Goal: Manage complex and hot organizational issues
How they used LinkedIn: In case you missed it, Target has been in a bit of a meat-grinder for the last 9-12 months. Earlier this year, an anonymous employee (classy, I know), called Target’s culture into question. Target could have responded in the traditional manner–a news release, media outreach, a blog post even. But instead, they chose Jeff Jones LinkedIn profile. Yep, you heard me right. They chose to use Jeff’s LinkedIn profile to share their take (in his words) on a response to the anonymous employee’s claims. Did it work? Only Target knows. But, I found this use of a corporate executive’s LinkedIn profiles VERY interesting–in fact, I have yet to see another large company do anything similar since.