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Thought leadership is one element of the PR and communications toolkit that helps to establish and increase a brand’s authority across a specific sector. It is often an expression of ideas, predictions and/or commentary which helps to demonstrate a particular expertise in a field, area or topic.
Successful thought leadership activity leads to increased brand credibility and authority. When executed in the right way, with the right audience and publisher, it can be incredibly beneficial to your brand.
You may like to listen to Episode 3, season 3 of the Revitalise & Grow podcast, where we delve into all things thought leadership. Or read on for an outline of the most common forms of thought leadership…
Whether focusing on the B2B or B2C market, bylined articles help to position you as the expert in your field and give you the space and opportunity to discuss your perspective and ideas without interruption. Working with specialist and targeted publications – both online and in print – gives you the opportunity to speak to a niche audience about a topic that already matters to them. This means you’re instantly a few steps ahead when trying to engage with this audience!
Our advice: Set out your ideas and thoughts in a logical order and take the time to ensure you’re backing up what you are saying with careful, well-thought-out evidence. Consider both sides of the topic and try to be unbiased, particularly when talking about your brand and its products or services. It’s ok to mention their benefit, in answer to a problem or obstacle, but remember to offer considered, balanced advice that is of use to the reader. You can use a call to action (for example a link to your website, email address or contact number) to help your readers reach you for more information and follow up with their questions. The promotional element in a bylined piece comes from being positioned as an authority.
Interviews give you the opportunity to speak from the heart and share your opinions and thoughts with a journalist. Usually managed in written form or filmed (live or recorded to be edited and played back), this two-way thought leadership content provides context for the audience and gives them the opportunity to understand your perspective.
Our advice: Ask the interviewer for an idea of the questions or topics they want to cover, and prepare your answers in advance. Don’t read your answers word for word, but take time to consider the question and focus on what the audience wants to know. Ensure your answers are genuine and honest, and think about how they will be perceived by the audience.
Media training is really important here, particularly if it’s a live interview. Nothing is ever “off the record”, so ensure you or your interviewee is well briefed and prepared. You can find out more about media training and our tips for interview preparation here.
Having the platform to speak at an event, a conference or exhibition gives your brand the ultimate opportunity to be heard. You are often surrounded by other industry experts and those keen to hear your thoughts, so it’s the perfect platform to put your brand at the forefront of the audience and make them think about what you are saying. The pre-publicity, (as well as the activity during the event and afterwards) can be really valuable for your brand. It can help increase your brand awareness and website traffic, before you’ve even spoken, often generating conversations across the sector with a really engaged audience.
Our advice: Consider the time you have for your speaker slot and find out what other topics or speakers are being covered. Make sure you know who they are and what they do! Practice your speech, get some honest feedback from peers, and then practice some more.
You might not have your own blog to record your thoughts and advice, but the likelihood is you do have social media, whether personal or professional – and this is a form of “owned media”. Utilise the tools on LinkedIn and publish your own articles about what you are seeing in the industry, what is coming up and how this might impact your sector, your business and the wider market. Give advice, offer thoughts and consider both sides of the argument for a well-balanced and valuable piece.
LinkedIn Pulse articles are shared globally with users who share an interest or career in your topics, so the platform does the hard work for you!
Our advice: Don’t give away all of your secrets, but do be insightful and offer valuable contributions to your audience. Also give them the opportunity to challenge your views and ask questions – there is nothing wrong with some healthy conversation and back and forth, and this can help to educate readers of your perspective and better understand your standpoint.
One of the fastest rising forms of communication, particularly over the last two years, has been podcasts. Whether you are a business professional, TV personality or award-winning chef, podcasts have taken the world by storm and we now see Google, Apple and Spotify dedicate a large percentage of their platforms to them.
A simple and easy method of communicating to your audience, podcasts are listened to during a commute, as part of a nightly routine or when looking for some quiet time. As a result, more and more brands have tapped into this stream (including ADPR – check out our Revitalise & Grow podcast here!) and use this channel to communicate valuable content to its audience, in order to upskill, educate and inform.
Our advice: Plan ahead and think about the topics your audience wants to know more about. And persevere! A podcast doesn’t mean being a global sensation overnight (unless you’re Beyonce), so plan your themes and create a good catalogue of content, news, advice and tools for your audience. You can also gain valuable thought leadership points by appearing on other people’s podcasts, much in the same way as speaking at a conference does.
Our takeaway point is that thought leadership content is really important for establishing credibility for you and your brand. For more information on how you can make thought leadership work for you, or how to become a thought leader in your sector, request a call back here or listen to our recent podcast on making thought leadership work for you here.