PR is all about authority, but those of us who work in the industry aren’t typically experts ourselves. How, then, can PR teams project the expertise and professionalism that makes high-stakes communication effective? While it depends on the industry, there are a number of ways to ensure your audience doesn’t just receive your message but understands the importance of it.

Professionalism 101

While you can’t earn a new degree or become an expert in a new field overnight, one distinctive element of professionalism is that its core aspects are accessible to everyone. If you want to convey your message so that people are inclined to listen, it’s important to speak or write in a way that projects confidence and integrity. If you seem sure about the content of your message and the values underlying it, your audience will recognize that.

Build A Community Of Experts

While you may not be an industry expert as a PR professional – most PR teams are part of outside agencies, not internal departments – you still have access to people who are at the top of their field. Make use of them. Are you speaking on a complex topic, like investment or risk analysis? Consider consulting a CFA charterholder, one of the top certifications in finance, and cite their certifications. The same goes for other industries; seek out whoever is considered a top authority in the field and ask them to offer some insights, brief you on the issue, or provide a quote you can use to bolster your message.

Most people pursue specialized industry certifications in order to compete for top jobs, but just about everyone with a professional certification knows that earning such a certificate gives them a high degree of credibility. As such, they’re used to being consulted on issues of public interest, so don’t be worried that you’re inconveniencing them by asking for a quote or consultation.

Find Effective Partnerships

In addition to establishing an authoritative voice and expert connections, one of the best ways to ensure the largest possible audience hears your message – or that it at least reaches your target audience – is by partnering with other groups or individuals that already have their ear. That might mean working with established influencers, since just about every industry has social media influencers who speak on news and trends within their field.

If you’re working on a PR campaign for an industry that isn’t typically public-facing and, thus, doesn’t have social media influencers at its disposal, that’s okay. It just means that you have to put in some work to build that presence. Develop a strong content strategy and identify the best platforms for reaching your audience, even if that means focusing on thought leadership on LinkedIn or Medium, rather than building a follower base on Instagram.

Professionalism can take many forms, and in the PR industry it’s largely about how you develop connections, master the language of your clients, and project confidence and trustworthiness as part of your public persona. Even when you’re an outside consultant, you become the person concerned parties look to for the information that matters. The only question is, are you ready to deliver?