Being considered a thought leader is about more than having been in a particular industry longer than anyone else. Thought leaders are experts in their given field, and they demonstrate this consistently by sharing knowledge and experience to educate customers and competitors alike on issues that impact their industry as a whole.
Having a thought leader in the senior ranks of your brand can be a great benefit to the brand as a whole. It raises the level of engagement with customers and it makes the brand appear more trustworthy, both key to increased sales and opportunities. But even the most talented PR communicator can't simply make a thought leader. Thought leaders must be cultivated.
Jan Luongo, PR/marketing communications director for Progressive-Medical/PMSI, and contributor to PR News' Book of Content Marketing Strategies & Tactics Vol. 1, shares some tips on the key elements of developing thought leaders for your organization.
- Understand your target audiences. Find out what keeps your customers awake at night. Ask questions, read, listen and imagine what life is like for them. And don't keep yourself restricted to industry topics.
- Engage your subject matter experts. Identify the experts among senior members of your team and present your suggested topics to them, requesting their input. Do this often, and always be sure to get enough input to tackle the topic from multiple angles.
- Build your thought leadership content strategy map. Establish goals and set expectations. Determine the topics you want to own based on your research and discussions with your experts.
- Create and distribute. How you actually get the content out to your audience will vary depending on your industry or company or the preferences of your audience. Just be sure not to fall into the trap of planning and never executing.
- Invite feedback. There are a number of ways to measure your content distribution efforts, including tracking emails, registrations and downloads. Also, be sure to check in with your customers directly to get their opinion of the work.
One last thing to remember: thought leadership is about educating, not selling your products or services by other means. Don't insult the intelligence of your target audience.
Follow Richard Brownell on Twitter: @RickBrownell