Guest Post By: Wendy Ducharme
+ A press release is sent over the wire about every 12 seconds, according to research
+ A typical editor at a major print or online media outlet gets more than 80 to 90 pitches
a day from companies that want to submit articles or get an interview.
+ The way your customers get news and information is more fractured than ever.
Traditional media still plays a role, but so do websites, social media and blogs.
How do you make your message and company stand out in this information saturated age?
One answer is to become a thought leader. “Thought leadership” is the hot buzzword in PR these days, but the concept has been around a long time. A thought leader is simply an expert whose insights and knowledge contribute to a deeper understanding of his or her field. Thought leadership means that people (and this includes traditional journalists and bloggers) come to you for information and commentary. It means that your comments, writings, videos etc. are reTweeted, incorporated in blog postings, cited by journalists, linked to on websites, emailed, etc.
If you are a thought leader, your voice stands out from the crowd and customers seek you out.
Do You Have What It Takes?
There are some prerequisites for becoming a thought leader:
1. Expertise: You or other members of your company need to genuinely be experts in your field. If your market is local, then you need to at least be a local expert. If you are trying to stand out nationally or even internationally, your expertise needs to be noteworthy on a much larger stage.
2. Original Thinking or Fresh Data: Thought leadership is becoming an established part of PR efforts. Everybody is jockeying for position, so how will you stand out? Fresh perspectives, proprietary research, surveys that provide new data and clear opinions will help you build a following.
3. Time: You need to be willing to devote the time to share your expertise through writing, speaking, participating on panels, responding to online comments and so on.
4. Patience: You won’t become a thought leader overnight or even in a matter of months. You have to be willing to view thought leadership as a long-term strategy.
Six Ways to Develop Thought Leadership
There are many tools to use to build a reputation as a thought leader. Here are a few of the most popular:
1. Whitepapers – Easy-to-read reports that demonstrate your knowledge of a particular subject area. See an example from Precision Marketing.
2. Blogs – Original thinking about hot topics in your field. See a sample blog from a Precision Marketing client.
3. Social media – Offer new insights on topics being discussed by your customers, comment on relevant articles posted by bloggers and traditional journalists, answer questions on LinkedIn answers and become recognized online.
4. Website content – Make sure that your website is not just an online brochure. Provide useful, information-rich content that will build your reputation as an expert and a credible source. See an example from Precision Marketing Group.
5. Bylined articles – This can be a Catch-22. Publications want articles from recognized experts, but you can’t become a recognized expert until you author more articles. Start with local publications or industry trade publications and work your way up. See sample articles bylined by Precision Marketing people.
6. Speaking engagements – Participate in online and live panel discussions or pursue speaking opportunities to demonstrate your knowledge of your subject area. Take advantage of audio or video recording to post the presentation online. See Precision Marketing’s speaking program.
Add to the discussion! Let us know how you have positioned your company or yourself as a thought leader.
Wendy Ducharme is a copywriter and public relations consultant on the Precision Marketing team. She also provides copywriting and public relations services through Ducharme Writing & PR, a New Hampshire-based sole proprietorship.