How to use LinkedIn in PR

Launched in 2003, Linked In has 610 million registered members in 200 countries. It is still, despite constant innovations, foremost a business networking site, and users should always remember this. As Dan Simpson, digital marketing executive at PR agency Red Lorry Yellow Lorry, says, “Over the last two years, LinkedIn has watched how users interact with the platform and started pushing more content and social features including video, improved groups and live streaming. Content marketing has exploded on the platform, but many marketers have forgotten the power of connections.”

If you work in PR, you can’t afford to ignore it, either for your personal brand, or for your clients’. Here keen users offer top tips for making the most of LinkedIn.

1. Be strategic

Elena Davidson, CEO, Liberty Communications: “I don’t think it’s ever too early to start building your ability to think strategically. Ask your team leaders about the objectives and KPIs you are working towards and focus your work in those areas. If you can do that and show you have made an impact to a client at a business level that will get noticed.”

2. Build contacts

Elena Davidson: “It’s also a contacts world – take time to meet journalists, analysts, influencers, brand ambassadors, event organisers and your bosses – anyone who helps you to do your job. Build relationships and never be afraid to say thank you for their help and support – it goes a long way.”

Red Lorry Yellow Lorry’s Dan Simpson: “Most LinkedIn users will accept unsolicited connection requests from people who they don’t know, and marketers can use this to build a bank of professionals made up of their target market – up to 30,000 connections whilst sending 50-100 connection requests per day.”

3. Generate leads

Red Lorry Yellow Lorry’s Dan Simpson: “In a content-saturated age, connection-only features like non-paid messaging, or viewing the activity of connections so you can engage with them, are very powerful tools that many people forget about.

“These features, paired with content marketing efforts, can give marketers and business development professionals a well-rounded upper hand when it comes to lead generation.”

4. Engage

Lauren Devlin, digital marketing manager at agency Carrington Communications: “Creating engaging posts on Linkedin has become easier than ever now that post reactions have been implemented. The most engaging posts do the following:

Tell a story about an individual who has worked hard to overcome obstacles and usually concludes with a “moral of the story”, inspirational quote, or “shout-out”.

Challenge the status quo within an industry, or presents an “unpopular opinion” with a prompt to encourage comments such as “Don’t you agree?” or “Am I wrong?”

Take a Facebook approach and shares a viral video that incorporates emerging technologies, innovative business ideas, and/or a unique attractions.”

5. Be human

Holly Pither, MD and founder of agency Tribe PR: “I run multiple LinkedIn profiles for my clients, alongside my own pages at Tribe PR. The key is to be human. Sounds obvious, but remember on LinkedIn, whether you are focused on B2B or B2C communications, people ultimately buy people. More and more these days we are seeing the gap between B2B and B2C communications narrowing across all channels and LinkedIn is a great example of this. With this in mind, it’s never been more important to connect with people on a personal level and drive conversations about things you audience is interested in. This means that brands who merely broadcast about how great they are, shout about new client wins, boast about awards and such like risk losing out. Rather they need to be talking directly to their audience about things that matter to them and sharing authentic and compelling content.”

6. Complete your profile

Amanda Tran, managing director of comms agency JIN UK: “LinkedIn is a very powerful tool to develop digital leadership. Creating an optimised personal profile and ensure to complete your profile to become an "All-Star" – a complete profile is 27 times more likely to be found on LinkedIn.”

7. Create articles

Amanda Tran: “You can also create your own articles with LinkedIn Pulse – this is a great tool to position yourself as a though leader in your field.”

Use it as a business page

Amanda Tran: “For brands, you should think of your LinkedIn company page as a business page and optimise it for search as it can help you gain visibility. Posts with an image, a link and a video will generate more engagement and visibility on your platform. LinkedIn provides free targeting tools for companies, with very accurate sections for the targeting. Only invest in an ads campaign if your target is large enough to need a significant boost (LinkedIn is quite expensive).”

Think of your employees

Amanda Tran: “LinkedIn is also a great tool for launching an employee advocacy program to develop your company's awareness through your employees' LinkedIn profiles.”

10. Be authentic

Eduard Chilcos, digital insights consultant at PR agency Bottle: “A key aspect for a successful LinkedIn strategy is understanding who your audience is and addressing their needs. Calibrating your message is crucial, otherwise it won’t resonate and you’ll just fade away in the news feed.

For the most part, it comes down to the cliche of letting your “authentic self” shine. If you’re a gregarious person offline, use it to your advantage on LinkedIn. If you rely on your wit, embed it into the content you share. Trying to overcompensate for something you're not might insult the intelligence of your audience (remember – many of these people are personal acquaintances of yours) and this will be reflected by abysmal engagement rates.”

11. Keep at it

Eduard Chilcos: “Furthermore, approach LinkedIn as work in progress. It’s not really a ‘set it and forget it’ type of thing. You first have to give in order to receive back. This could mean adopting new habits such as: ensuring your profile is on brand, connecting with every new business contact you engage in conversation with (even if it’s just over email), tracking relevant hashtags and participating in conversations.

“The same principles are valid for paid campaigns as well. The beauty of LinkedIn is that it allows you to access a target audience filtered by job title, function or people within a specific organisation. However, paid campaigns on LinkedIn involve higher costs per click compared to other platforms and they require higher budgets. This makes it key for you get your ducks in order organically before embarking on a paid social journey.”

12. Publish, publish, publish

Ian Irving, co-founder, creative strategy director at creative agency Kemosabe: “You may not be a professional writer or commentator, but writing on LinkedIn articles, stories and commentating on others content is a great opportunity to be seen as a thought leader in your space. You can show off what you know about your sector, industry, etc and anyone who looks at your profile will instantly know that you know what you’re talking about.”

13. Don’t be a sheep

Ian Irving: “My number one tip is to be honest, be yourself and stand out from the crowd… don’t be a sheep! Having a point of difference gets you heard and having opinions gets you noticed, however, if you have a controversial opinion or commentary, do your research, be able to back your opinion and view and once you have stepped onto that soapbox be ready for the responses.”

14. Get Value

Ian Irving: “Make sure your network is of value to you, it’s not like Instagram likes and follower numbers mean nothing, I use it to find business partners and to win business, it’s my number-one sales tool and has delivered me many new clients over the years so I make sure that my connections are relevant and are of mutual value.”

15. Approach people…

Ian Irving: “Don’t be a wallflower, if you have a gold account you can see who is looking at you, if that person is of value go back to them, say hi and look for a reason to be connected, they could be your next client.”

16. But also block people!

Ian Irving: “Lastly, and one I love, remember the BLOCK button and don’t be afraid to use it, it’s like a virtual middle finger.”

Advice for networking

As it is foremost a channel for networking, Charlotte Taylor, account manager at Jaywing PR, discusses how to sell yourself on this channel:

“Linkedln has changed in recent years, it's more than just a platform to visit when you want a new job or are hiring. You are now representing your company or brand like you would if you attended a networking event.

“Social selling allows you to grow your network for free as opposed to more traditional tactics such as networking events that may cost money. Your social identity on platforms, such as LinkedIn, is a way of getting your personality across with potential recruits or new business and so it's important to be authentic in what you are talking about on your platform. 

“Position yourself as a subject matter expert by sharing relevant industry content, commenting on news alerts, and engaging with similar people in your field. Building genuine relationships with either potential recruits, prospects or peers by regularly engaging with their content will help build trust around you, contribute to your authenticity and make conversations easier.”

You don’t need to be a genius to make the most of this channel, but you do need to be committed. As Ian Irving concludes: “Social media needs commitment and never more so than Linkedin, this channel can lead you to your next ‘great’ so you need to be committed, take your time to make your profile as tight as possible, content is kind on this channel, so share your work and your portfolio, get involved in conversations and commentate, you have to be in it to win it.”