Thought Leadership. What is it? Should you be doing it?
In the P.R. and communications industry, we’re constantly urging our clients to embrace the concept of thought leadership. However, with everything most executives have on their plates, especially closing business and focusing on direct revenue generating activities, individual thought leadership is often not a top priority. But establishing yourself and your organization as an industry thought leader doesn’t have to be the time consuming task many fear it to be, and more importantly, it should be recognized as a sales support activity.
Let’s start with what is a thought leader. A thought leader is someone who is at the forefront of thinking in their industry or discipline, distinguishing trends, opportunities, and burgeoning themes, and most importantly, is able to effectively communicate these to relevant audiences. The “relevant audiences” part of the definition is one that is often left out of other definitions. However, it is quite important because you want your perspective and insights to add value to audiences to whom the information is important, as well as audiences that are important to you and your business. Being identified as a thought leader can be quite beneficial in the sales and business development process because it can tip the scales in your favor, encourage potential clients to seek you out, and establish trust and credibility with potential prospects and partners.
The path to thought leadership status, won’t be laid overnight, but it is one that can be fruitful along the way. Below are three quick things you can do right now to begin sowing the seeds to growing business opportunities and sales through thought leadership. You can remember them through the acronym SOW.
- Speak at target events: Most industry conferences open speaking opportunities for proposal submissions. Identify three to four industry conferences that are relevant to your target audiences and submit a proposal to speak. These presentations are meant to be informational in their content, not promotional, and as such are excellent opportunities to show your expertise to a qualified audience.
- Obtain positive publicity: Reach out to target media outlets with a pitch to provide commentary on the area of your expertise. Ideally this should be done within the context of a bigger story. Let’s say that your industry is experiencing certain challenges, or there are trends you see taking shape that will affect it in the coming year. You can offer to provide commentary or be a resource on your area of expertise within the context of these broader industry topics.
- Write bylines: Reach out to trade publications and pitch an article written by you, also known as a byline. The idea here is to write a story that provides value and insight to your target audience while showcasing your expertise.
These three actions can be implemented immediately. Be sure to work with your public relations team or agency to hone your strategy and optimize this opportunity.
by Victoria Rossi. Victoria is CEO of i-media-international, a public relations and marketing agency.