Take the Lead

So, the company board of directors or senior management directed marketing to take the lead in the company being seen as an industry leader by recommending that it advocate for something aligned with their industry.  Now what?

Next Steps

What a tall order!  Before walking down the plank alone, here are some ideas.

The biggest challenge will be in coming up with something provocative and novel, a position or road that’s never been taken before.  Achieving this will set a company apart from everyone else.

Tap every trustworthy asset and ally available.  These may include loyal clients or customers, vendors, partners, and suppliers.  Get their input, including not just about one or more possible products, but also potential events, conferences, position papers, etc.Also be sure to gather the marketing team together, engage and challenge them and explore the possibilities. Consider what the hot top of mind issue(s) may be among trade association(s) and what’s been received via emails, comments, etc. from customers and the public.

Also consider a small focus group of the company’s most loyal customers.  The advantage of doing this is they will respect the company even more for honoring them and their input.  They will be more loyal and truly care about the organization. Of course, swear them to secrecy and promise them that they will be among the first to know if and when the company does something.  Be sure to also reward them with something appropriate.

All Done.  Now What?

Identify the five or six top ideas and let the marketing team identify the pros and cons of each.  What’s the worst that could happen with each? What’s the best? Will adoption of any of these leave an Achilles heel exposed?  If so, what?

While this is going on, have the team prepare a strategy, timeline and tactics on how what’s selected will be rolled out.  Be sure it includes some form of measurement as well. That strategy should be all-encompassing, including major media outlets as well as all target audiences.

What would also be helpful for key staff and employees in contact with key consumers is having a one-page FAQ sheet.  This will make it easier for them to answer questions that could come up after rollout.

Once the collected data and results have been gathered and analyzed, narrow down the suggestions to the top two or three for final presentation to the board and/or senior staff.  When the top one is identified and selected, prepare for its rollout.

Since the company statement and position will likely be ground-breaking, hold a press conference.  The CEO and board chair should both be present to say a few words and answer questions. 

Also be sure the company’s key consumers, especially those whom you asked for input, are informed in advance of your plans and timeline.  At the same time, ask them to keep an ear to the ground and alert you of any feedback they receive. Double check that the team, especially those who deal with customers is trained to answer questions, particularly about why the company elected to take a position on a particular issue.

As usual, monitor and measure reaction to the company statement.  Be prepared to consider adjustments based on the feedback and keep the key consumers informed.

Ronn Torossian

Ronn Torossian is the founder and CEO of 5WPR and one of the most well-respected Public Relations professionals in the United States. Ronn is the author of "For Immediate Release: Shape Minds, Build Brands, and Deliver Results with Game-Changing Public Relations."

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