I have a soft spot for challenger brands. The ones who have to get creative to make the news or find something truly original and different to say or do. They tend to be passionate, innovative, and not afraid to try new things.
I especially like the challenger brands that are also pragmatists. In an era of overpromises (Crypto is sure to make you rich! This leading-edge technology is the next Google!), challenger brands can be bold without being boisterous or hyperbolic. But not everyone feels the same way. Top-tier media have a clear mandate—report on the companies and trends that are impacting markets and consumers the most. In other words, the main characters. Challenger brands don’t always fit that bill—on their own.
Are You the Main Character, or is Your Customer?
We may be the main character in our own lives, but when it comes to the news cycle, companies have to recognize that on most days, they are not the main character in the story. And that’s probably a good thing. Main characters face a lot of pressure and heavy scrutiny, and if companies are focused only on themselves versus their customers, they miss the mark.
For professional services and B2B companies, finding opportunities to add value to top tier news stories starts with acceptance. You may not be giving main character energy, but you do have an important opportunity to contextualize, challenge, educate, and point the way.
So, rather than trying to force fit your view, shift your perspective to make your end-customer the main character in the story and plot the way forward for them. There are many other important roles that need to be played.
Finding the Plot and Your “P”
Let’s take a major issue professional services companies and their customers are rightfully focused on—ESG. Most professional services companies won’t be at the center of a story on ESG, but they can still be essential to the plot. How can you frame your point of view to become a go-to contributor media will be clamoring to talk to?
You may be familiar with the Four Ps of media commentary: Provocative, Predictive, Prescriptive, and Prudent. In our experience, professional services firms rarely have trouble being prudent, but often shy away from being provocative, predictive, or prescriptive. I get it. It can be risky, but when done right, it garners attention, credibility, and engagement with reporters and prospects alike.
Here are a few viable ESG commentary roles that can bump up your place on the call sheet:
For many professional services firms, becoming an educator or convener is a realistic place to begin. It builds confidence, credibility, and relationships that can then be activated with bolder points of view when the time is right.
Then, like the most exciting challenger brands, pilot a new take. Gather some fresh data, reach out to more customers, and unpack the hard issues. You can stay mindful of your reputation without putting risk before what’s right for your customers and business.
Bring that main character energy to your own role and perform it with conviction. You’ll become a go-to resource in no time.
By Keri Toomey, SVP and Professional Services Practice Lead
Photo by Magda Ehlers on Pexels.