Thought leadership allows experts to position themselves as credible, reliable voices in relevant industries. There is a lot of strategy that goes into thought leadership–from creating well-researched content to finding the right key opportunities to provide, well, thoughts, on.
Content created for thought leadership campaigns may include articles, blog posts, white papers, interviews or webinars, and much more. Here’s the thing: you have to promote and share this content regularly with social media campaigns, email outreach, search engine optimization (SEO) strategies, or even traditional marketing methods such as advertising or direct mail. A successful thought leadership campaign should build trust between a company, organization or individual while developing brand recognition in the marketplace.
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Q: What is “thought leadership” and why should I invest in it?
A. Thought leadership is an extremely effective way to position an organization as the expert in their field. Through a combination of education-based initiatives across an organization or individual’s own channels (social, website, and email lists) and posting or appearing on third-party websites like news outlets or complementary organizations’ blogs or LinkedIn feeds, thought leaders are built through an integrated and strategic body of work in a variety of places, reaching key audiences.
Q: How does a PR agency help with thought leadership?
A. PR agencies are well positioned to oversee and execute thought leadership campaigns because they understand how to help brands with third-party validation in media and influential channels. Since they know what the gatekeepers want and need from subject matter experts, PR professionals are an obvious choice to be consultants and trusted partners for thought leadership campaigns.
Q: What are the different forms of thought leadership that can be created or distributed?
A. Thought leadership can take many forms (from podcast appearances to contributed articles in target outlets to a strong, dedicated LinkedIn strategy for posting relevant content for an industry audience). But, at the core of every thought leadership campaign is useful content that educates, informs and inspires a target audience. Thought leadership is not primarily a sales strategy—it is an educational tactic that can generate leads and sales because an audience knows and trusts you as the thought leader in your industry. While it’s not a direct sales tool, it is often one of the most effective ways to build an organization up in their industry and make the job of sales teams easier.
Q: What types of goals and objectives should I set for my thought leadership campaign?
A. It is best to be hyper-targeted in a thought leadership campaign and to start with outlets and channels that will help your organization get some relatively quick wins. Don’t start with the Harvard Business Review or the Wall Street Journal Op-Ed section; rather, begin with an industry publication or email newsletter you read and study the sections carefully to understand the type of content they are looking for. A pro tip: When flipping through an industry magazine or looking at its website online, choose an article and scroll down to the bottom to look at the “about the author” section. You can quickly tell if they accept contributed content (and the type of content they accept) if you see the author is not a full-time journalist or employee of the outlet but rather an executive or leader from an outside organization who contributed the piece to the outlet.
Q: How long does it take to see results from a thought leadership campaign?
A. PR is a marathon not a sprint. The same goes for becoming a thought leader. Rarely does a person or organization become a trusted thought leader overnight. Rather, it takes consistent content, both on your own channels and through earned media in trusted third-party outlets, to begin to build a body of work that points to your credibility.
In our experience, thought leadership campaigns begin to show progress 3-6 months in and start to hit major strides anywhere from 9-12 months after the start of an engagement. After several years of working hard and making consistent gains in industry publications, at trade shows, through awards and speaking engagements, and other vehicles, a brand or leader often begins to see inbound opportunities stemming from aggressive thought leadership efforts. They start to hit their stride. The key is to continue to push hard on those thought leadership activities—there is almost always someone waiting in the wings to take your place as a thought leader.
Q: Do you have any tips on how to keep my brand front-and-center during the process of creating thought leadership content?
A. This is something we work closely with when we engage with clients. It takes a great deal of understanding of what media outlets, organizations or other brands are looking for when it comes to bringing on experts for the thought leadership content they share. And even when sharing thought leadership content on your own channels, it is critical to stay focused primarily on educational and informative content, weaving the brand in as relevant. The brand should never feel forced when it comes to thought leadership campaigns. Be a leader first and a brand advocate second. It’s going to pay dividends in your aim to be a real thought leader.
Q: How do you measure success when it comes to thought leadership campaigns?
A. The success of thought leadership campaigns can be measured in a number of ways. First, a brand can measure how often their specific thought leaders are in target publications. They can measure how many conversations are being had on social media about the thought leader or brand as a result of the activities of the campaign. They can measure message pull through (how often certain words or phrases that position you as a thought leader are appearing in the media landscape).
An effective thought leadership campaign ultimately needs to be tailored to meet the unique needs of a client. That’s what our agency does when we onboard a new client.
Talk to us today to learn more about what we can do for your brand to drive awareness and help you find the honey jar you’ve been looking for with all the other agencies and campaigns you’ve run before. It’s time for some real organic honey.
“The work Bear Icebox has done for Acrelec resulted in an increase in awareness for our products and services. We’ve seen an increase in the number and quality of media placements which directly brought in more sales for the brand. Our engagement with followers on social media has boomed too.”