Companies with successful PR programs know they need great subject matter experts (SMEs) — the go-to experts who can comment on industry trends and take a stand on key issues. With access to SMEs, PR teams can conduct story mining sessions to tease out nuggets of wisdom and build unique and powerful messaging to hook media contacts and publications.
But who should the PR team start story mining with?
First things first — story mining
A part of developing excellent thought leadership for SaaS, story mining is what it sounds like. PR professionals ask SMEs questions about their roles, industry trends, new product developments — anything that could yield a vein of something interesting. From a PR perspective, mining those veins produces the influential, standout quotes and stories outlets crave; it can also help uncover new and impactful approaches for larger marketing campaigns.
Story mining helps create the narrative structure underneath strategic PR development, especially from that thought leadership standpoint. Fresh conversations with a company’s executives lead to new ideas that drive thought leadership campaigns, and the knowledge gained through sessions enables PR pros to tell bigger stories with longer narratives. Story mining, and the questions asked during it, are the most effective vehicle to capture that crucial information from SMEs.
So, unlocking story mining’s value begins with interviewing the right people. Matching the right people to the right topics — and drawing out the best points — drives successful sessions and lays the foundations for needle-moving narratives. But who should be the first story mining targets? BLASTmedia recommends starting with these three SMEs:
The CEO or founder (and, sometimes, the same) will embody a company’s purpose and work. They act as a natural north star to guide growth and evolution — so they should likely be on the media front lines, guiding the messaging.
Story mining’s pointed questions can hone in on the truly key messages a chief executive should champion with the media. For example, medical device compliance company Greenlight Guru places a lot of focus on employee wellness, with CEO David DeRam exemplifying that mentality. Story mining helped him sharpen key messaging for a Forbes article on wellness and mindset in the workplace.
Speaking of front lines — sales teams are the first faces many prospects meet, and they hear the problems that bug buyers every day. Since story mining uncovers topics that whet media’s appetites — and, by extension, their readership — PR teams will want to incorporate buyers’ burning pain points within the PR strategy.
While sales leaders can certainly serve as public-facing SMEs, they often contribute more behind the scenes by helping develop PR campaigns. Even if the sales leader isn’t the public-facing SME discussing their topic, their insights from story mining sessions can sharpen a thought leadership campaign with valuable intelligence like specific buyer pain points or create new directions altogether. They contribute to the overall narrative building so critical to successful strategic PR.
Industry experts are those who are chock full of industry-specific insights that’ll wow audiences. Experts may include C-suiters, though department heads or directors often work equally well. SMEs will likely vary depending on the targeted industry. For example, for martech, we may recommend the CMO; for governance, risk and compliance, we’d recommend a director of compliance or security.
Companies can also deploy multiple experts to cover different facets of an industry. For example, a lot goes into developing the AIOps category, so Moogsoft has several technical experts discuss its technology’s business use cases or implications for AI’s future.
By starting a story mining program with these three SMEs, companies can best represent their current and aspirational states. These SMEs’ industry opinions can enthrall audiences and undergird a standout PR effort. Looking for more on how to begin story mining with your company’s experts? Reach out to us.