Be a silent influencer and get noticed with the help of brain science and writing | UnNoticed Entrepreneur — public relations for business owners.
In the new episode of The UnNoticed Entrepreneur, talked about how brain science and writing can impact getting noticed. He’s been an entrepreneur for over 25 years now; recently, he stepped down and became chairman of his company “ ,” which is the “UK’s number-one provider of business-writing training.”
The Paradox of ‘Getting Noticed’
The phrase “getting noticed” implies making it all about you. But, paradoxically, the way to get noticed is to make it not about you. You have to make it about the person that you want to take notice of you.
We live our lives thinking about ourselves. We’re wired to be fairly selfish and we have a self-preservation streak. And as we have the same brain model and psychology, you can use brain science to tap into that and really connect with people. In fact, Rob argues that it’s the best way to do it. If you ignore it, you might succeed or you probably won’t. But if you do it, then you’re giving yourself a really good advantage.
Brain science is a handy term that covers a whole range of academic disciplines. It could be social psychology, cognitive psychology, behavioural economics, or neuroeconomics (which is a study of how people make decisions).
The Power of Writing
For most of us, what we do most of the day is either write or read. We’re communicating through instant messaging or email. We’re crafting proposals to get work. We’re using live chat for customer service. These are all forms of writing.
Writing is the simplest form in which you can use brain science as an unnoticed entrepreneur. And the first thing you need to do is to understand how people read and write.
On a more proactive level, if you want to get noticed, you have to position yourself properly. You can do these through two good ways: by attracting the attention of the media and by writing thought leadership pieces and guest articles on other people’s websites.
When you’re doing these, you can use the psychology of how people read and how they make decisions to get you noticed.
On a practical level, if you’re thinking about getting the media’s attention, understand that those who work in the media are generally trained the same way: They have news antennae; they know how to identify news. It has become a gut instinct for them. However, they may not know that what makes news, news — and what makes them sit up and take notice of you and give you some coverage — is based on, or at least underpinned by, brain science.
You can think about it as journalists being wired for negativity. This is contrary to entrepreneurs’ tendency to say something positive when trying to get noticed: Look at us, we’re great. We’ve done this or that.
Though it may sound cruel, the truth is journalists don’t care. What they’re looking for are things like surprises. Do you have something surprising to say? What have you noticed about your industry? What have you noticed about your customers or your clients that they are doing but might not be realising? What advice do you have for them?
These are things that always make news. And they’re often called “elite issues” — for instance, topics about health, money, and children.
When getting the media’s attention, you should also think about scale. People are drawn to things that are really big and you can use something big to tap into the media’s emotions. For example, you’ve signed a huge contract or you’re announcing a big merger that will make you the biggest organisation in your space. These things are potentially newsworthy — especially if they’re surprising.
By combining all these elements, you can rack up the news value.
It’s also important to write things such as press releases in a way that won’t send journalists to sleep.
Writing is Not Terrifying As You Think
Most people are not natural writers. Most entrepreneurs didn’t start off as English majors. And when it comes to writing, the hardest part is getting started.
However, these days, it’s really interesting how Artificial Intelligence (AI) writing tools can produce a first draft that you can edit. They’re also getting better all the time and this makes them worthy of consideration.
Though there are different options available in terms of generating written content, you have to foremostly realise that we do write more than we think we do. But one of the things that can hold people back is a fear of getting grammar wrong. The reality is, it’s rarely about grammar.
If you’re trying to write, just use a simple structure. Rob calls it the “WHAT formula” and it means “What happened, how it happened, amplify, and tie loose ends.” By “amplify,” it means expanding on what you’ve said in the first two bits.
There’s also nothing wrong with using somebody else and tapping into their expertise in writing. If they’d give you advice and say that you shouldn’t make it about yourself or shouldn’t put that quote in, then listen to them. Especially if you’re paying them, then you have to really heed their advice.
What Kind of Negatives Should You Write About?
We have a negativity bias. We are wired to look for negative things. But if you’re to put out negative news, keep in mind that you shouldn’t put out negative news about yourself. You should be talking about negative news about the world, about your industry, or about the plight of your clients.
You can point out something you’ve noticed about your space. It could be a piece of negative financial news or it could be something that people are getting wrong. It could also be about the danger of a company that produces cybersecurity software. A good negative angle for that would be to raise awareness of threats. On the flip side, you should also point out what can people do to protect themselves. If you are producing cyber security software, then say that you have the solution.
You can use this approach not just in getting media attention but also in writing guest posts on websites that your clients read (these websites are very niche and are desperate for content). You can contact them and ask if you can write a piece for their audience about an issue and help them with it.
Once the audience gets to read that, they will realise that there’s an issue they weren’t aware of. If they will look at the bio at the bottom of the page to find out who wrote the article, it will make them realise that you clearly have the expertise and they don’t.
Don’t hold back. Don’t just give people half of the information in the hope that they will contact you. If you leave them wanting more and thinking, “I don’t know what to do. You’ve told me about something. I’ve got nothing practical to do here,” then they’re going to Google somebody else and forget about you.
You have to be generous with your information. And if you want to generate leads directly, then create something like a helpful guide that they can download from your website upon giving over their email address. That way, you can get direct leads, or at least build up your mailing list while helping you raise awareness. In other words, you’d get yourself noticed.
Getting Emphasis Noticed
They’ve been blogging since 2008 and there are hundreds of articles addressing sometimes very niche topics. These can range from how to complete a pre-qualification questionnaire, and how to write a maternity leave policy to how to write a press release or a technical report.
They cover different elements and some of the articles that they’ve produced are almost like mini-books in themselves that they simply give away. As a result, their articles have been great for search engine optimisation and positioning.
At the moment, their website gets 1.2 million visitors a year. They don’t do that much advertising, but what they do is optimise for what are called “long tail searches” or those very specific things that people search for. Each search term might not have a huge volume, but if you add them all together, it does amount to a huge amount of traffic. Additionally, if people are looking for something specific and you can offer them something specific, then you are going to get noticed.
Now, Rob doesn’t just act as an ambassador of his company. He raises awareness by talking about an important topic: Why people should take written communication more seriously. He tries to be as helpful as he can be by making sure that he doesn’t put anything that’s not useful. And hopefully, people will realise that he could have the solution.
To learn more about him, visit his personal website, www.robashton.com , where you can find a free course on how to influence decisions called “Silent Influence.” You can also visit Emphasis’s website, www.writing-skills.com .
This article is based on a transcript from my podcast The UnNoticed Entrepreneur, you can listen here.