Creating Thought-Leadership Articles that Media will Publish

As a PR pro, you know how important it is for executives to become thought leaders–it helps business appear more credible and trustworthy to existing and potential customers. That said, there is a surefire way you can help an executive become established as a thought leader: assist creating content and securing placement of it in industry outlets. While you could help produce video, social posts or podcasts, we’ll concentrate on written content here.

Here are tips that can help.

Consider length

If a thought-leadership article is 300 words most trades likely will dismiss it for lacking depth. On the other hand, a 5,000-word, stream-of-consciousness manifesto also can turn off editors.

When targeting a trade with an article, do your research. Check the outlet’s website to see if it mentions parameters for article length. Let the author know about word-count and style tips before she starts writing. Editors you pitch will appreciate that you took the time to consult the parameters.

Unique content 

No matter the industry, executives should possess expertise that can result in useful content. Still, a successful thought-leadership article must include a unique element, an unusual view of events or the industry, perhaps a concept that’s new or rarely covered.

The goal is to go beyond a topic and delve into a subset of it. Find a problem or hurdle and let readers know how they can overcome it.

For example, say an executive wants to write an article titled “Tips to Boost Business Success.” Her outline includes explaining why PR, marketing, social media and advertising are vital tools.

On first glance, the article seems generic and overplayed. You’ve likely read something like it many times.

Instead, encourage the writer to delve into one part of the outline. For example, your writer could focus on Facebook ads, for example, which have helped her company.

Google search

Perhaps you consider Facebook ads a well-worn topic. One way you can check is conducting a Google search. Type keywords from the proposed essay’s title, “How Facebook Ads Can Help Your Business ASAP,” and see how many publications have covered the topic recently.

If there are many articles with the same or similar titles, which feature a lot of the insight planned for your executive’s essay, encourage another dive. This time have her pick one aspect of deploying Facebook ads and offer tips. The more advanced and in-depth the tips, the better.

Offer examples

Expanding on an earlier point, including examples is one of the best ways your client can ensure a unique, in-depth and insightful article. Your author can share her experiences and create theoretical scenarios that demonstrate the reasoning behind each point she makes.

Current events  

Another tactic is linking news events with the essay. Sure, evergreen content will interest media outlets that desperately need copy. On the other hand, tying content to current events is a better approach. In general, outlets prefer featuring content about timely topics.

For example, say you represent a major finance figure. She could write an article about how businesses can adjust their budgets for the inflationary wave. This likely will garner more media interest than evergreen content about budgeting.

Structure and subheadings 

When your executive creates her content, it is paramount that she keep it well-structured and organized with succinct subheadings. This helps enhance readability and appeal for the outlet’s editors and readers.

For example, if an essay goes from talking about one cooking strategy to providing an overview of another one, include a subhead introducing the second cooking method. If the content consists of several paragraphs without subheadings, it can overwhelm readers and make it hard for them to find what they need.

Ray Blakney is CEO and co-founder of Live Lingua