A thought-leader is a person or brand that is an informed opinion-leader and the ‘go-to’ in their field of expertise. They are a trusted source that moves and inspires, turns ideas into reality, and shows how to replicate their success. Obviously, having a brand that is viewed as a thought-leader is a very positive thing.
Although thought-leadership positioning can be useful when marketing to the consumer, it is particularly effective in the B2B marketplace, where credibility is so crucial.
So how do you get there?
PR is a very effective tool for positioning brands as thought-leaders, either on its own or combined with other elements like social. I have seen brands go from having nearly no awareness to being well-known players in their market in six to 12 months, through using PR to create a thought-leadership position.
Some key tips to get you started:
Choose one spokesperson who will be the name and face of your brand for all enquiries. They should be someone senior within your organisation who knows your business inside-out, and is comfortable with speaking to media (they can be media trained if they need a bit of help).
Identify who you want to see your brand as a thought-leader and what media they read. Your audience may not just be the people you directly market to, but could also include stakeholders who are important to your business. Then, ensure you are across the type of content this media would publish, and tailor your approach to each of them.
Positioning your brand as a thought-leader means showcasing the knowledge and expertise of the company, so content needs to be interesting and engaging and should not have a strong brand focus. The idea is to naturally highlight the credibility of your brand by educating your audience, rather than overtly doing so by openly promoting.
Have a think about topics that your brand could comment on such as trends in your industry, top tips and future-thinking. Look outside the box – be brave! Then, spend some time with your spokesperson, interview them about these topics and get some key points.
Produce a content plan that outlines when you will pitch which topics to media, and ensure this is followed. Some topics might be in-line with the annual calendar, for example; November might be a good time to pitch an article on anticipated trends for the coming year. It is important that content is regular so as not to lose momentum and positioning.
Let media know the topics your spokesperson is happy to comment on if they need an expert for quotes, and suggest articles your organisation can provide. Dangle a carrot in front of them – provide them with an outline of what these articles could entail from the points you gleaned when interviewing your spokesperson. The key is to make the media’s job as easy as possible by providing engaging content they can pick straight up and publish.
How do you know if you’ve been successful?
Well, unfortunately there is no hard and fast indicator, but a few things should tell you your brand is gaining thought-leaderships status. After time, you will have media requesting content from you because of the high value it brings to their outlet, rather than you always pitching content proactively to them. You may have requests for your spokesperson to undertake speaking engagements, and you will have customers ask for advice and make comment on articles they have read by your brand.
This should also flow through into your social channels. If you share the content from your brand that media is publishing, you should see an increase in engagement.
In terms of ROI, look at the PR value – is this over and above your investment?
Thought-leadership positioning is actually very tricky to achieve and it can be quite time intensive trying to get there, so we always recommend enlisting a credible PR agency (us!) to help.
– Sarah Bakker, PR Manager
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