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The benefits of sharing your opinion

I recently wrote an Opinion Editorial piece for the West Australian that went to print on the 1st of January 2017. It was an in-depth piece into the campaign that the Chamber of Minerals and Energy has rolled out against the Nationals leader Brendon Grylls. This article has had significant exposure not just through the paper but through social media particularly via LinkedIn with over 4,600 views.

An opinion on a divisive topic can be met with hostility and sharing your opinion in the media can have professional ramifications. After my experience of writing this opinion piece, I have a few observations about making an opinion public that I want to share.

Firstly, my motivation for writing the piece was not political or financial – I have no ties with the organisations that were mentioned. It was driven by my dismay that so-called communications professionals thought this campaign was going to be successful. The campaign strategy was flawed from the beginning and that was my primary motivation for writing my piece.

Some people fear that their opinion or view might be challenged or questioned when launched publically. In today’s world of digital media, you can be absolutely assured that your opinion is going to be met by an opposing view.

It is human nature that we avoid confrontation, we want to be friends with everyone and we do want people to like us and what we do. I don’t fear confrontation or any challenge to my opinion, because it is just that, my opinion. I do fear that when I have an opinion, no one will take any notice or it won’t be acknowledged. I am in the business of consulting, advising and executing best communications practice and I practice what I preach. The lesson is, don’t be afraid to share your opinion if you have expertise in an area.

Social media is a wonderful way to amplify your opinion and view, even more so if you are promoting a traditional media article or interview that you have been a part of. Being part of traditional media gives you significant authority. Sharing it on social media allows for your networks and indirect networks to observe, engage and acknowledge your opinion. My tip is, celebrate your traditional media by leveraging it on social.

LinkedIn truly has been amazing when it comes to the views of this article and having a Premium account has given me detailed data on who is engaging with this content. The senior communications executives at a certain mining company have been very active from the minute the article was written. The support from some of the most influential people in business and communications has been both appreciated and flattering.

183 views were from a CEO or an Executive Director, 147 views from people with the title salesperson and 104 were corporate strategists. The most views came from Curtin University, The University of WA and BHP Billiton.

When it comes to comments on social media, my rule generally is to never to reply to comments but this post was an exception, because clarification was sought. I think you need to be very careful responding to comments whether they are good or bad. Choose your battles to fight when it comes to reacting to commentary on social. Often, the comments that are the angriest or the most personal will come from the people least relevant to you, with the smallest following in their networks. These people in the main are toxic, negative and in short what we call trolls. It is these people who funnily enough we need if we want our posts to go wider as they fuel the phenomenon that is a viral post. My tip on social media engagement is, celebrate all responses whether good or bad, because any interaction is confirming that your opinion matters.

Don’t be afraid to broadcast your opinion, your point of view and your position. You will build respect, authority and brand and when you do get your time in the media make sure everyone else also knows. Don’t be the best kept secret.

Nicholas Hayes is the managing director of Media Stable and co-host of communications podcast Brand Newsroom

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