The power of thought leadership

The Inside(r) Track

#Urgh, jargon alert. “Thought leadership”, if I should ever utter it to you or you should ever find it cropping up in conversations with your own PR agency, is effectively positioning yourself as an expert within your field.

It doesn’t matter how big your company is. What matters is that you have expertise and that you are not afraid to share it. What matters even more, if you want to get noticed and asked to comment again, is that you give “your take” not some generalist fluff .

You know you have your own opinions and yes, you should be careful to ensure that what you say is not to the detriment of your overall message but don’t be afraid to speak up for yourself. If a journalist asks you for your expert comment it is normally because they want a balance against another comment.

If you think interest rates should go up, say so. If you believe that SEO is more effective than pay-per-click, then pipe up. Explain why you think so and fight your corner, demonstrate your expertise and show why the journalist asked you for your opinion in the first place.

You might find that you disagree with the majority. So what? If that is truly your opinion and truly what you would advise a paying client to do then you should have the courage of your convictions.

Finding opportunities to commenthere comes the science

This is about establishing a regular dialogue with your target media. Actively read the magazines/newspapers/blogs/e-zines that your audience does so you know what topics come up for discussion and ask their editorial team (or the advertising team if you can handle the sales pitch sure to follow) for their editorial schedule for the coming year. They may even have a synopsis that comes out every month detaling what they will be writing about, along with any asociated deadlines and contacts.

This is actually a major part of the PR consultant/agency’s role. Sure, we scribble reams of press releases every day and seek to set up opportunities for our clients but there is also a heck of a lot of ground work going on behind the scenes. If you are committed to building a PR campaign, rather than spitting out the odd press release every now and then, this research should form a major part of your time.

Finally, a note of caution. If you do get an opportunity, please, please, please, follow through with it. Don’t back out last minute leaving the journalist high and dry. If you do, how likely do you think it is that you will be given a second chance? So, if you are going to use thought leadership in your PR campaign, give it 100% and keep at it. Once you get the ball rolling you will find the opportunities just that bit easier to come by next time.

If you don’t get a chance to comment, don’t take it personally, remember, it is all about balance – they won’t want you all of the time.

PS – this month’s edition of Midlands Business Insider has a feature on PR in it. I’m quoted. I’m not the biggest agency out there, far from it but I do have an opinion and a degree of expertise and I do deliver. Feel free to have a nose and if you disagree with me, let me know. We are dealing in opinions afterall.