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Putting the Thought Back into Leadership

Amy Fathers  Follow

The term “thought leadership” tends to be thrown around quite a bit in PR. Everyone wants to be a “thought leader” in their industry, but what does it really take to achieve this? Contrary to popular belief, it takes more than just writing a byline and getting it placed in your latest trade magazine. True thought leadership requires a dedicated effort and long-term strategy in order to be successful.

As PR practitioners, we can help our clients create “breakthrough” thought leadership campaigns that can heighten an executive’s overall visibility and validate them as an expert in a certain area. With the right plan in place, thought leadership can ultimately drive top-line growth for companies and raise awareness with an entirely new group of customers.

One of the most important factors to keep in mind is momentum. It is essential to keep the program moving forward by taking each success and building off the one before it. It’s critical to think two steps ahead when it comes to thought leadership for your clients. A byline today can mean a huge feature story tomorrow. Your client can catapult from a regular commentator in the news to a true thought leader who is renowned in the industry as a leading expert on a certain topic.

So what, then, is the best way to enhance your executive thought leadership program? There are a few strategies you can employ to drive results:

  • Set Goals – Ask your client what their goals are from a thought leadership perspective – from the most basic (becoming a frequent commentator in the press) to achieving the “frame-worthy” feature story in The Wall Street Journal. Plan your strategy accordingly and use each success as a building block to achieve your ultimate goal.
  • Serve as a Partner – You and your client are essentially part of the same team working to achieve results for the program. Don’t think of yourself as part of a different company. This will only hurt your thought leadership efforts.
  • Think like your Client – It is essential to fully understand your client’s key messages and company positioning in order to secure the types of thought leadership opportunities that will ultimately elevate their brand. In essence, don’t just sip the Kool-Aid, take a big gulp and don’t be afraid to finish the whole cup!
  • Push the Boundaries – Look beyond the ordinary for the extraordinary! Take a chance and step outside the lines to look for opportunities that break tradition. Anyone can secure a byline article placement for a client, but can they deliver an invitation to an exclusive, senior-level conference that produces multiple leads for their client? Or come up with a book idea that takes an executive from first gear to fifth gear?
  • Develop a Unique Platform – Create a platform that your client can own and make sure it’s original. For example, there are thousands of executives who can speak to the topic of leadership, but can they explain what “transcultural” leadership is? It’s not enough to come up with an idea…you need an innovation.

There’s never been a better time to revamp your thought leadership program. So, stop “doing” and start “thinking!” CJP

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