One of the benefits of content marketing is in generating thought leadership, but how exactly does it work?
This episode will go deep into content marketing, content syndication, traditional media, and how all of it can be leveraged to yield thought leadership. Specifically we will focus in on these 3 points:
1. Thought leadership requires a deliberate strategy
Associations and nonprofits are authorities on the industries, professions and issues/causes they represent. Association and nonprofit leaders naturally have deep expertise to share. But thought leadership doesn’t just “happen.” This should be supported by a thought leadership strategy - to media, policymakers, members, prospects, donors, etc.
2. Thought leadership involves multiple tactics - but brings many benefits:
There is no one way to do thought leadership. Some campaigns are directed more towards policymakers, others towards consumer media, others towards donors. Thought leadership spans speaking engagements, blogging, video, social media, by-lined articles and more. It is not a one-time thing: rather establishing thought leadership requires regularly communicating knowledge, intelligence, and insights. It is a long game, not a short burst, but has huge benefits of building credibility, trust, visibility and recognition.
3. Leverage visibility opportunities by give media what they can use:
Thought leadership campaigns can be standalone, though are generally part of a larger PR/visibility campaign for an organization and/or an issue. For any visibility campaign, make sure your “owned media “ (social media channels, blog, Linked In, etc.) is robust. Then make it easy for media to cover. Submit by-lined articles or columns that outlets can run with. Regularly share not just data trends, surveys, and forecasts, but also stories of impact. Associations and nonprofits have so much knowledge but generally share it only with members or donors, etc. That expertise can go so much broader by figuring out the best way of capturing and communicating it.
[02:20] Introduction of Podcast Guest, Rick Smith
[12:34] Why Deliberate Strategy Is Critical
[13:46] The Real Challenge To Content Marketers
[16:09] Ways To Build Up Your Credibility
[19:41] Multiple Tactics For Thought Leaders
[23:50] How To Leverage Opportunities Aligned In What Media Can Use
[27:50] Connect With Rick
content, content marketing, thought leadership. We know that there's a relationship between these three. But just because we create content or have a content marketing strategy doesn't mean we achieve thought leadership. This episode is going to help you connect the dots to help you gain thought leadership for your business or your personal brand on this next episode of The your digital marketing coach, podcast. Digital social media content influencer marketing, blogging, podcasting, blogging, tick tocking, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, SEO, SEM, PPC, email marketing, who there's a lot to cover, whether you're a marketing professional entrepreneur, or business owner, you need someone you can rely on for expert advice. Good thing you've got, Neil, on your side, because Neal Schaffer is your digital digital marketing marketing coach, helping you grow your business with digital first marketing one episode at a time. This is your digital marketing coach. And this is Neal Schaffer. Hey, everybody. This is Neal Schaffer. I am your digital marketing coach. And welcome to episode number 245 of the your digital marketing coach podcast, this podcast. And really everything I do is all about giving you clarity, strategy, and results for your digital and social media marketing efforts. Today, we're going to switch gears a little bit by not just talking about content marketing and thought leadership, but also about traditional digital media. We often think about content that we can repurpose for social media for email, or for our blog, to generate more website traffic with search engine optimization. And while we talk about leveraging collaborations and influencer relationships to help us reach a lot of our business goals, that traditional media is still something that has tremendous influence out there. And if we did not include this in everything we do with our digital marketing, and I guess you could call this digital PR, we are missing a very, very big piece of the puzzle. So I'm always looking for unique guests to bring on to this podcast. And I'm really excited to bring you Rick Smith, Rick is the CEO of news USA. And he really stumbled upon something that has provided his business and the business of his clients knots of results, sort of like early in my days of LinkedIn before I wrote my first book, windmill networking, understanding, leveraging maximizing LinkedIn, I had this aha moment when I realized that if I had the most number of connections, and I had a certain keyword in my profile, I would appear number one in LinkedIn search results for that keyword. Now, obviously, LinkedIn does not work that way anymore. But I was able to leverage that. And really, since then, I became sort of an expert in LinkedIn, I ended up writing two books on LinkedIn, and helped a lot of professionals a lot of businesses along the way, and I still do that. But sometimes just a little aha moment can lead to massive results. And I'm hoping that this episode might give you that sort of an aha moment for your business. So we're going to talk about how thought leadership requires a deliberate strategy. We're going to talk about the multiple tactics, but the main benefits, or I should say the many benefits that you can achieve through thought leadership. And also about leveraging visibility opportunities, by giving digital media, traditional media, what they can use. It's going to be a lot of storytelling, but a lot of really, really good insight and hopefully, nuggets that can provide impact for your business or your professional brand. So without further ado, here is my interview with Rick Smith. You're listening to your digital marketing coach, this is Neal Schaffer. Rick, welcome to the your digital marketing coach podcast.Rick Smith:
Hi. Glad to be here.Neal Schaffer:
So Rick, you are obviously today we're going to talk about thought leadership and the media and content marketing and all that. But before we do, you are the CEO and founder of news USA. And I think our listener would love to hear just about your journey, how you got to be where you are today. And obviously a little bit about news USA before we go into the interview.Rick Smith:
Got it. So I started out as in business school and accounting and then I got into with Deloitte and Touche in the CPA work. And then I went out and started my own computer company and in the process, I then looked for a product to sell. I really wanted to promote a product. So I ended up writing books. I created books on business startups, starting your own business i created In a book on getting money for your business, and I created a book on sales for your business, and with the books, it initially started out as a checklist of just how to get started in your own business because I was wanting to do that. And the checklist started turned into a sharing that checklist with other people. And then ultimately, it resulted in books. And then I decided we need to promote those books. And I want to sell the books. And it was a bit of a challenge, because I first started with advertising. And advertising can be very expensive. So you need an effective way to I'd run ads, and the ad cost would be this much of what I was bringing in. And in fact, what I determined very quickly, is I was making sales, but I was it was the ad cost was too high. And I said if I can get the ad costs down as a percentage of sales, I can make money, it would be a no brainer. So how are you going to do that? Well, I tried different things, and then somebody so send out, write a press release and send that out. So I created a press release. And I got media lists, and I got it out to all these places. And they didn't do anything with it. And I talked to them and meet with them. And they said, Look, I don't have time, just for you to sit down and turn a press release, about your book into a book review, and a shot of the cover of the book and put it out to my readers. I look at the boxes of press releases. I get it every day they're going in the garbage, right? He says but but I talked further and they said if you write the article on your book, you give the review on your book. And then you type set it to the column width of my newspaper, or my magazine, and you give me a shot of the cover of the book. I'll drop it in, because I want interesting stuff. I just don't have the staff. And I said wait a second, if you do it, you think other newspapers would do it? And the answer was yes. And so I ended up creating, turning a book review of my own book into an article that I then syndicated out, meaning I printed and mailed to 1000 newspapers, and it ended up selling helping sell over a million dollars worth of my first three titles. And they went worldwide because then I did book reviews on my second book, and I did a book review. I said they came out on my third. And then I make the all these sales of the books. They're rolling out. And then my broker saw me bringing money and says, Wait, how are you getting this money? You know, you're young, you're this was a long time ago.Neal Schaffer:
And before amazon before the internet, right? I mean more any of that? I mean,Rick Smith:
like 40 years ago. So they were like, Well, where are you getting all this money? And I said, Well, I write the article I said to get out. He says, Well, why don't you do it for our firm. We're a big brokerage firm. And he, he says, let's go back from lunch. And you'll meet the VP of advertising of the firm, which is like the equivalent of Merrill Lynch. And I went in and met him and I showed him what I was doing and stuff like that. They just explained it. He says, Look, what would it cost to do an article, okay, to all these newspapers across the country every week of the year. And I give him a number and he says, I spend more than that in one ad in one market. Yeah, he says do it. I says, but you can't do the same article every week, we have to write new articles. So it had to be int. And it had to be interesting copy. It had to be tips or information. Because of it isn't. No one wants to read stuff though. editors don't want to put it in their paper, because it is an interesting. So it had to be interesting. It had to build up credibility to firm. And that was so successful in the fact that it got in all these newspapers and people would write in, they'd be able to write in to a name and address sorry, to an address for little booklets or information that we put in the articles. And it ended up it was really great. And one day I went down to this brokerage firm and he says I want you to see what the value of what you do is and he grabbed a big bag of mail. And he says he then all the brokers would stop and it was like feeding fish because he was showing them the leads of all these people that are written in they want to know more about this type of stock or this type of investing. And it has the name and address of the person who sent in the letter. pretty cool because they hand them out based on where their neighborhood is. That way, the guy could say, Hey, I'm on my way home, I'll bring you the book by booklet by him, let's talk and work real well for them. When he moved to another firm, when that VP of advertising moved across the street to another firm, he insisted on carrying on with us and the company grew was I started with $84, and an idea and we sold out to a $300 million public company and and that company news, Canada's still around to this day, doing very well. And so I then had to decide what I was going to do. And I decided to leave the business, leave Canada, and then take the news Canada concept to the US and start news USA, doing the same thing, God because I went to New first New York, and then I moved to Washington, DC, where I could promote it because I saw a lot of the customer base were associations, and nonprofits and ones who had a message, a message that was really popular with the newspapers, because they knew how to put out thought leadership pieces or consumer type pieces that were tips and information. It wasn't shoving an ad at people, it was doing it in a way that built the credibility and help those organizations, it also became a great tool for small business to establish credibility.Neal Schaffer:
So yeah, so Rick, let's thank you so much. That's a fascinating story. And you were able to sell that much book in I mean, it's hard enough today. But you know, we have so many digital marketing tools at our disposal, you don't have any of that back then obviously, no, that's, that's quite a success, you found a really great niche there. And I want to dig deeper into that, obviously, your business, I'm assuming has changed over the years, as newspapers have changed. We've seen the emergence of the Internet and social media. And content is almost a commodity. But I want to focus on this how content marketing can drive thought leadership, because thought leadership is something that a lot of the listeners, a lot of businesses want to achieve in their industry, nonprofits, one thought leadership, everybody sort of one set it to some extent. And before we hit the record button, you were sitting out there as your first of all requires a deliberate strategy. I tend to believe and I think you'd agree that most companies don't have a strategy. They just want to become thought leaders. Maybe they hire PR agencies or hire yourself. Let's take a step back in why does it require deliberate strategy? And what might that look like?Rick Smith:
The challenge people face is, you start off by wanting to build that credibility or be that expert. So you start off you, you speak to friends, you speak to contacts, you speak to what I would call stakeholders, in other words, people in your company, or in your association, or in your charity, or your donors or your investors, people who already know who you are. But now, and you can do that by zoom, you can do that by phone calls, you can do that by events that you have. But you're kind of talking to yourself. Now, how do you take it beyond that? How, and when you're now talking, but taking it beyond that reaching people who if they knew about you, and they knew what, what you know, then it's millions of people, you could engage in your mission that you haven't even begun to reach. And a lot of times, it's those people, those additional people you get introduced to or you connect with that end up growing your business or growing your organization. The real challenge that content marketers or marketers of any type digital marketers have is, how do I reach more people in a credible way? That is cost effective? We all go, okay, I get it. I'd like to reach out I'd have more people, you know, reaching out to me and saying, Okay, I'm interested in what you're doing, or I want to be part of it, or I want to join your organization. I want to donate, I want to invest I want to, but they don't know who you are. So how do you do that? A lot of times people start with things like press releases, they'll craft the press release, they'll spam it out through whatever networks or whatever they do. And then they go, Why didn't that get me the media coverage I need? Well, one. It's buried in with 100,000 other press releases that are time sensitive and age on and off wherever they're being distributed. And then they're not really designed to be directed at consumers. They're basically directed for journalists to then sit down and do the same thing that I had to ask people that there was, here's my press release, you go invest the time to write this story from scratch and write it the way I want it, I want the control message. And it just doesn't happen that way to make it very rare. And also, if you have a, if you have a choice, if you're the journalist, you have a choice of covering this, this, this this, you're going to cover the biggest best known companies. Yep. Because that makes it more interesting. You don't want to cover a wannabe. So that's one problem. And then the other is okay, ah, I'm going to do advertising, I'm going to do digital advertising are going to spend money on this, that can get really expensive. And if you can spend through a lot of money without having a measure, a lot of times you'll those firms you can hire, that'll say, Okay, give me your digital marketing budget, we'll burn through each month. And we'll measure clicks and tracking that data. But you're like, Well, how is that going to help me build my name and build so that I can go after, and I can attract people? I don't know. So that's kind of the approach. So you look for ways that you can build up that credibility. So speaking, and that is limited. So one of the things we've gotten into is basically crafting your controlled message, either as a byline piece, you know, an expert piece, tips and information like that, and then syndicating it out and placing it on 1000s of new sights simultaneously. And that's one thing that we've been doing now, there's so many other tools you have, you can get yourself set up on podcast, you can get yourself interviewed different things. But how do you leverage but you're limited on how many venues you can be on or things you can do with your time. So there's you personally doing it radio interviews, TV interviews, this type of thing, even with people setting it up for you, you can only cover so much. So how do you leverage that. So sometimes you can take an article you've done or an expert piece you've done, and then get that crafted into syndicated pieces that can go out even while you're talking like we are, that can be working for you to build credibility. Now, how do you do it in an effective way? There are really low cost ways to do that, where it gets crafted for you and gets distributed, and then you get the proof of placement.Neal Schaffer:
So getting back to the the original question that the strategy then. So obviously, you have these different vehicles. You mentioned content syndication, you mentioned podcasting, there are others, obviously, yes, but also that strategy, that the message, the crafted byline, and the fact that you're now reaching out to people that don't know who the hell you are. And that's where the value is, right? And really understanding how are you going to appeal to them, rather than all of your internal stakeholders that already know you?Rick Smith:
You have to have you have to sit and think, what is it that makes you unique? And what is it that you have to offer? You've got to really, it's again, crafting your message. And sometimes in the process of talking to a third party, whether it's a PR person, whether it's my editorial team, whether it's in the process, you flush out, because you have somebody else looking at what you're saying, and then trying to put it in words that other people can clearly understand. A lot of people go whoa, okay. That's really what I wanted to say, I didn't know how to set because a lot of people are a little technical, or they're little, so much into what they do and what they're saying that they can't really put it as clearly. So sometimes having a third party that can bounce that around, you flush out what you want to say.Neal Schaffer:
Yeah, no, that makes sense, Rick, and I think that's why you were successful to begin with was that you could write those newspaper articles that would that would not only please the editor, but that would be that would people want to read and they'd respond to that hay for more information, send us a letter. So I think that's a that's a unique skill set that that you have that's, you know, the the fruit of your, the root of your success. So let's talk now about these multiple tactics for thought leadership. You know, we were talking before speaking engagements. Obviously, we have podcast, the byline articles, but is this just sort of a one time thing? Or is this something just like social media or like search engine optimization? We have to be nurturing it, you know, every day.Rick Smith:
People should be doing utilizing every channel they have. I'm amazed how many people don't even put content up on their website. They don't put blog, they don't do blogs, they don't do any. And I get it. A lot of people don't have the time to do that. And the other problem in other challenges, a lot of times, you're only talking to your own audience, again, you're not really going further. It's a lot of times I've seen people put a lot of stuff up on their website, but then they don't have a strategy to then tell people it's there or communicate it out further. So it's part of part and parcel. So there, what you're getting at is, there's many things you can do. And there's many people that go through this type of stuff. In my case, in the case of what we do, we're writing stories. And you're proving them, you get to control the message, and we're placing them nationwide. But then we're talking to you about how do you leverage it? How do those placements in the Boston Herald in the St. Louis Post Dispatch? And how do you take those placements? And then merchandise those out to your stakeholders? How do you then take those out, and put them on your website, as seen in dot the dot the DA, and then that way, people coming to your website go, Okay, look at the additional credibility and the write ups we're getting. And if you're getting placements across all 50 states, then you can talk to your people from Texas and Alaska, and show them how you're giving them local support. And for startups, for startup companies, one of the challenges they have is they have limited budget, and they need to make a splash they need the show they're getting that someone is recognizing who they are, well, maybe instead of doing a whole series of stories, they get one out there right away. So that then it establishes, and they got the write ups, and then they can balance and put out stuff ongoing as they feel more comfortable.Neal Schaffer:
It's really interesting. I mean, I guess when you think about it, I'm a big fan of looking at opportunities for visibility in this sort of digital first approach to this book I'm writing but you know, its search, its social, its email, and that search part. I mean, the internet provides tremendous opportunities, a tremendous amount of people consuming information there and searching for information there. And if you're just a startup website, you're not gonna get any traction soon. But when you leverage popular websites, I'm assuming the content syndication you do is two popular websites, yes, that that's just immediate attraction, for lack of a better word. SoRick Smith:
all those links right away, you're gonna have, you know, do follow links that come right off of the credible media websites back to your website. So you've got those immediately putting in place, and that allows you to start building a foundation. Look, I'm not gonna sit here and say it's the answer to everything. Because you're spending limited funds, and you're getting off getting at least your foothold, and you're establishing something. But from there, you can build up others people do us some good stories with us every single week. But some people do it quarterly or do it occasionally. Or it could be some sort of marketing or PR agency that wants to light up a client quickly, and get 1000s of placements on them. Incredible media that's still up there six months, a year later, that the client can then go back and check. They're on all these new sites.Neal Schaffer:
So I want to dig a little bit deeper into this, this concept of content syndication, which obviously you're the expert in have the concept of leveraging visibility opportunities, by giving the media what they can use. So I'm assuming that you probably have a lot of clients. And not every piece of client, maybe the client wants you to talk about this, and maybe have to push back saying this isn't what the media wants. So let's talk about how can we leverage these opportunities in what does the media want? What can they use?Rick Smith:
Look, at the end of the day. If you got to think of it this way, the the media is concerned about their audience, they want their audience to have interesting articles and interesting things that they will read. And that they want to read. So the key to do that is to give them what they want. That's interest. So people want things like tips and information that they ideally can't get anywhere else. In other words, five tips on this fight. One of the more successful articles we ever did is there was four tips for successful weight loss. And what was really good it was from the American berry metrics society, which is basically the weight loss doctors, the the organization, the Association of all these weight loss doctors was doing that. It wasn't some self serving, you know, a brand that was trying to sell a miracle weight loss thing. So they were reviewing peer reviewing what they were saying and they were giving very valuable tips. The people and the newspapers love that. And the audience like reading it, because it has great appeal. And sometimes it's it's thought pieces because people talk about very interesting topics, whether it's on climate, or crypto or this or that, but they do it in an informed way. And then I'd like where my team of editors and, and writers will bounce off different ideas to challenge you to end up coming up with something that's really interesting. And a lot of times, you come in saying, I really don't know what I talk about, or you have a press release or materials. But by the time you're finished a little bit of an editorial session, you go away. Okay, I yeah, I can talk about that. And we'll write it, you know, we'll write it from having that discussion with you.Neal Schaffer:
Yeah, there's tremendous value in that. I think, what most businesses don't get that world. So case in point, I published my last book, The Age of influence in March of 2020, right, as we were going to lock down, and I actually had a publicity consultant working with me. And she goes, Neil, if your book is not related to COVID, you're not gonna get any coverage anywhere, even Business Press, wherever, right. So there's, there's the need to understand how the media things, especially during different times of the year, probably, like holiday marketing and things like that will be good if you know, if you write marketing content like I do, but there's a role that third party can play that understands the way the media works, that most small businesses like myself, and a lot of my clients don't. So I think that's a really great resource that you provide and, and reminder that the content has to be resourceful. And this is just in general, for any content marketing, any blogging, if you're just talking about yourself, you know, it's not gonna work. And I think content syndication is something that I think we in digital marketing, we talked a lot about it in the early days. We haven't talked about it recently. But it's really funny. And I'm going to be an incomplete disclosure here, I was actually accepted into what's called the Forbes coaches Council. Sure, this is for FY syndication, I ended up not publishing with Forbes for various reasons, I recently accepted my application to publish an Entrepreneur Magazine was accepted. This is content syndication, this is for fee, right, that I am paying the money for the privilege to publish X number of pieces of content on entrepreneur.com per year. So the concept of content syndication is not that weird. It's actually very common. And it's something that a lot of thought leaders are leveraging today. And you're providing a unique service that it you know, it I don't know, if you include entrepreneur, Forbes, but but that concept I just want everyone to know is very mainstream, and a lot of companies, most PR agencies are using it. So don't be afraid to look deeper into it. If this is something that interests you. Where can people go, Rick, if they want to find out more about news USA and how you can help them? Okay, so if you want to comment on what I just said, go for it.Rick Smith:
Yeah. I mean, when you start offering people, Forbes and an entrepreneur, the problem, the challenges, you have to charge them quite a bit of money for that. Yep. And he tried to shop around to even find how you can pay a contributor or pay the organization's directly for that. It just gets into the many, many 1000s Sometimes it's $10,000, you know, just for the one placement? And then the question is, are the links going to be do follow? Are they going to be on their ad platform so that they have thought flow, like with Forbes they used to have where the contributors were do follow links, but they stopped that because they wanted people to pay for the advertising side to do advertorial. But then a lot of small businesses went on my god $12,000 to get one article, and then how long is it going to be there? And then are people going to see it? Or is it going to be so buried? And then what can I do with it? So I, what we're doing is we're charging, you know, like, something like $2 per placement, but I'm doing 2000 placements. So in any type of quantity, it gets pretty impressive and it's all inclusive. Look, I'm delivering one part of the puzzle. It's guaranteed help with writing and creating the story, placing the story and then proving it back with images of the screenshots of every placement and live links to every placement. So it answer to your question Where do you go to find out more behind me wait behind me over here it says news USA so you go to news usa.com And on the site you can even see my contact information, my email or phone number and reach us that way.Neal Schaffer:
Well, Rick, you are truly the king of content syndication. Thanks for joining us and sharing all your knowledge today, I think it is an option that I haven't really talked about on this podcast. And a lot of marketers might not even today they think of all these other things when a potential solution and as you said, it's not the answer to everything, but you know what, no one channel is the answer to everything. It's how all these things work together, and how you leverage them. So thank you so much for sharing your expertise and experience with the audience. And I hope I hope the listeners if they're interested will reach out to you,Rick Smith:
Neil, thank you so much. I gotta tell you having guerilla marketing, low cost, high impact stuff is kind of where I come from. SoNeal Schaffer:
I got that sense since me with you. So thank you very much, sir.Rick Smith:
Thank you. All right, INeal Schaffer:
hope you enjoy that interview, picked up a nugget or two, the entrepreneur.com opportunity that I talked about. It's funny because I'm actually trying to build up a stockpile of blog content before I accept it. So I've yet to accept it. So if you're looking for my blog, content entrepreneur, it's not there yet. Hopefully, they're still going to accept my application, even though I am paying a little bit late. But it is just another avenue to experiment with. It's all about various experiments and finding what works and what doesn't work. And if you haven't tried it, I recommend you do. So. Hey, that's it for another episode. I hope. As always, this episode, you're investing 20 3040 minutes of your precious time with me, will help give you a nugget of information that can help drive your business forward in this age of influence this age of digital, and if your business needs a little helping hand, I'm really excited. I have been talking a lot both on this podcast as well as off this podcast about really investing more in video. And I'm really excited to announce I finally released a video Well, I've actually released two videos so far on my YouTube channel this year, youtube.com/neal Schaffer, but the first episode I released or I should say the first video I published this year, is all about what is a fractional CMO. This is what I do for a living to help businesses. So if you're interested in how you can work with the how I might be able to help you, I urge you to check out that video. And if you are a author, speaker consultant like me, and you're curious about what a fractional cmo might be about, you should definitely check out this video. It's short, it's sweet. And hopefully it gives you some new insight as to how you might want to work with external resources. So I will put it out there in the show notes. I'll have a link but you can just go to youtube.com/neal Schaffer, and you should see it up there in my most recent one, two or three videos. Alright, that's it for another episode. As always, I'm honored by all your reviews, all of your sharing of the various podcast episodes. If you did not know, you can go to podcast got Neal Schaffer calm and you can actually do a keyword search through all of my 245 episodes. There have been a lot of gems over the years, I've interviewed some incredible people. So I hope that that serves as a resource for you to find those episodes, especially if you are a relatively new listener to this podcast. Well, that's it for another episode. This is your digital marketing coach Neal Schaffer signing out. You've been listening to your digital marketing coach, questions, comments, requests, links, go to podcast dot Neal schaffer.com. Get the show notes to this and 200 plus podcast episodes and Neal schaffer.com to tap into the 400 Plus blog posts that Neil has published to support your business. While you're there, check out Neil's Digital First group coaching membership community if you or your business needs a little helping hand. See you next time on your digital marketing coach.