Dorothy Crenshaw June 28, 2012 | 11:03:36

PR Techniques: How To Get ZMOT On Your Side

Marketers like to talk about the Zero Moment of Truth, or ZMOT, for a product or brand. Loosely defined as the moment when a prospective buyer looks for online reviews and recommendations for a product, ZMOT follows the P&G tenets of the “first moment of truth,” when a customer chooses a product on the store shelf, and the second one, when she uses it at home.

ZMOT may be a new buzzword, but to PR professionals, it’s just another way of describing how online reputation and word-of-mouth recommendations converge to make the buyer’s habit of “pre-shopping” a make-or-break factor for a brand. Part of our job is to help manage that reputation.

What’s interesting is that ZMOT holds true for people also. With new graduates facing a tough job market, and many more seasoned professionals finding the employment picture equally challenging, it’s important to deploy classic, and newer, PR techniques and tactics to get ZMOT on your side. Here are some tips from the PR and communications side.

Revamp your online reputation. One of the first things we do in setting up a new client program is research, including listening to what’s said about the business or brand.  Of course, everyone in the job market knows the power of online reputation but nurturing a personal brand, or winning your personal ZMOT, isn’t just about managing the negative.  It’s about maximizing page one of search results to reflect a proactive, current positioning that communicates expertise.

Reference your authority. To that point, you can position yourself as an expert in your area through regular blog posts or – most underused – short videos on YouTube.  Start discussions on LinkedIn.  Become a regular part of the community on key blogs in your area.  Post in the professional groups on Quora.  Get more active in professional organizations online. Make connections but convey expertise as you do so.

Repackage yourself. That’s what we say when a certain story pitch isn’t working.  If your CV is being rejected out-of-hand, it’s time to replace dated anecdotes with fresh ones and present your skills and experience in a current context. According to recruiters, it’s best to focus on the last 15 years of your resume.  And everything – from your resume to your look to your digital profile – should be up-to-date.

Create a ‘news stream.’ Just as a growing company plans its press communications to craft a larger story of growth and success, you can look at your communication to your core network the same way.  Draw up an editorial calendar of planned updates to key recommenders.  Push them out in appropriate and personalized ways.

Hone your storytelling talents. Yes, the product turnaround, the team that jelled just in time to win the large client, or the career change can be interview gold.  But most people don’t work hard enough at it.  There’s some terrific advice on storytelling for business out there from experts that range from Steve Denning to Hollywood’s Peter Guber.

Media-train yourself.  Storytelling mastery is difficult, as are open-ended or unexpected questions. It’s not too extreme to do what the pros do.  Draw up a list of tough or open-ended questions, craft the best responses and storylines, and videotape yourself in a mock interview.  Then hone your answers and anecdotes and do it again until it’s natural and seamless.

Line up recommenders and keep them in the loop. This is another key ingredient of ZMOT. The power of reputation lies in third-party endorsement, whether implied or explicit.  Many employers “pre-shop” for senior level candidates before meeting them.  Make sure key colleagues, clients, mentors, and peers are in the loop and ready to say the right things if they’re asked because the most credible references are informal ones.

A different version of this post was recently published on MENGBlend.

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