Few terms in PR get the hackles of the jargon police up more than thought leadership. Often consigned to the realms of content marketing or corporate doublethink, thought leadership has long been seen as a mythical quest – shrouded in mystery and difficult to master.
In reality, although it requires some serious thought and diligent delivery, developing an effective thought leadership strategy is actually simpler than you think.
And the benefits of getting it right can be ten-fold.
We need only look at LinkedIn’s annual Top Voices roundup to understand how standout employees in a variety of sectors are flying the flag for their companies. By building communities, these individuals – including the likes of Leena Nair, Chief HR Officer at Unilever and flexible working campaigner Anna Whitehouse – are taking industry debate to a whole new level through engaging and relevant articles, posts, videos and comment.
Hence, the case for making thought leadership the holy grail of every PR strategy has never been stronger – particularly for B2B sectors – where it can successfully position business leaders as the ultimate ‘credible’ voice in their respective industries.
So how do you create a successful thought leadership strategy?
Start with Newsjacking
In a world where content is king, it can be tempting to try and reinvent the wheel – getting bogged down on finding the ‘perfect’ topic to cover or overanalysing what this says about your company.
However, this is where newsjacking, the relatively underutilised art of leveraging trending news to elevate your brand’s message, is a good place to start. Cherry picking topics from a news agenda rich with the latest industry announcements, research, and insights is a great way of not only demonstrating sector knowledge and relevancy but also show your company always has its eye on the bigger picture.
Keep It Simple
A common misconception is that thought leadership solely involves writing big meaty in-depth articles or blogs. In actual fact, it encompasses a wide-ranging remit and it can be applied to something as simple as an infographic or a social media post, through to more complex projects involving national research or industry whitepapers. The trick is to start small, start simple and work your way up.
Know Your Message
At the crux of an effective thought leadership strategy is to know your message, whether as an individual, service or corporate brand. Many companies can misinterpret this, falsely thinking they can’t enter the thought leadership arena unless they have something new or controversial to say.
While in an ideal world we’d all love to have a unique perspective, sometimes building a ‘credible’ voice is simply about having a view, persistently and consistently – whether that’s your company’s understanding of a new regulation or stance on an industry M&A. Never underestimate the power of the valuable insight you can bring to the table by simply choosing to put it out there.
Consider your Audience
Lastly, a fundamental aspect of thought leadership is to always ask: Who am I hoping to reach with my content? For what purpose? By asking this on a regular basis you can really hone your message to ensure it’s speaking to the right people. For instance, if it’s a case of reaching potential recruits a company might consider thought leadership activity on flexible working or the skills shortage. In summary, with benefits such as providing a distinctive competitive edge, positive brand association, engaging your customer based and wide media appeal, investing in a thought leadership strategy, then, is clearly a no brainer.
Monira Matin is Senior Account Manager at Whistle PR which offers a range of integrated communications services including strategic consultancy, PR, social media, community engagement, internal communications and issues management. For further information, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or contact us here.