Creating topical content for your website and social media feeds is really important, because it helps you position yourself as being on the ball and on top of what is going on, and also, because it helps you attract journalists who are always looking for experts to comment on topical matters.
PLUS, if you want to get publicity by writing for online publications, or even printed outlets, then it’s much easier to get editors to agree to take a piece that is topical.
So, here are 5 steps to creating topical content.
1. Use the news cycle of your industry, and turn it on its head
Whatever industry you are in, there is always industry news; so keep on top of all your industry publications and what they are talking about as there will always be hidden opportunities to find an original, personal angle that stands out.
One of my clients, a fashion consultant, for example wants to be a fresh voice in a luxury fashion industry that is currently full of doom and gloom. The news is all about how it’s over for luxury fashion, with several high profile fashion label closures. Now, if my client joins the fray talking about how it’s all belt-tightening from here for luxury fashion, her voice will get lost in the noise. So instead, she can turn the story on its head with ideas such as ‘Why there has never been a better time than 2016 to launch a luxury fashion line’ (and obviously backing this up with a load of credible and relevant reasons). After all, the closure of one or two large labels isn’t going to stop hundreds of people opening new labels – so why not try to be a positive and uplifting voice amongst the negativity?
2. Move an industry story on to its next chapter
A different way of launching on the back of what’s hot and current in your news sector is to develop the story further rather than challenging it. Stories don’t really end – every story is linear and there is always something else that can happen next. In the case of the closure of high profile fashion brands, I’m no fashion expert but I doubt it marks the end of the entire industry – nor the story! Opinion blog posts could take up the next chapter in a number of ways: new up and coming labels have more space to come to market; fashion industry reaction; what’s next for the designer? etc.
3. Offer an analysis of a topical situation
Another story in the fashion industry seemingly all the time are the fortunes of M&S. Whether you’re a fashion blogstar or a fashion consultant blogging to raise your profile with the brands who might hire you, you will have lots of say on this topic from what M&S do right, what they do wrong, what you would advise them to do. And your thoughts and views on a topical situation demonstrate that you are a leader in this field.
4. Offer a solution to an industry problem
Part of being a thought leader is to be the person who always seems to have the answer to a problem. You’ll see this all the time in the national papers. But do these commentators who are called on to proffer solutions to problems really know best? Probably not. They just have the nerve to act like they do and can talk about it in an interesting and engaging way, promoting further discussion.
So what problems are there in your industry and what solutions can you offer? It doesn’t have to be the best solution in the world, just something that provides food for thought and is well argued. Solutions are often subjective and there might be hundreds of different solutions to any given problem. No-one is going to hold a gun to your head if your hypothetical solution isn’t right! Probably no-one will act on it at all, but the net result is that simply offering up a solution helps to position you as an industry leader.
If only thought-leadership were as simple as publishing a single killer blog post and suddenly becoming ‘industry famous’ with a load of opportunities falling at your feet. Well, it’s not! Building personal brands takes time and so you have to keep creating content and publishing it over and over again. And the four ideas above all require one quality if you’re to use them effectively – consistency.
If you consistently offer sane, sensible, grounded commentary, you’ll get known for it. The key is consistency – and it will raise your profile and strengthen your personal brand.
Even better, your consistency will resonate both within your niche and beyond. So while you’ll gain authority and respect as a leader, you’ll also be sought out by the media as a commentator. Journalists are always looking for well-regarded people with opinions who can give arguments and counter arguments and who can move existing stories on. By creating content along the lines of the above, you are stamping out and establishing your personal brand piece by piece and proving you’re able to do what journalists need you to do.