- What many people don't realise is that everything that goes into becoming a thought leader in your industry starts with PR.
- Becoming a thought leader takes much more than sharing your work and ideas with the world—you need to analyse your target audience, create an outreach strategy, collaborate on projects and more.
- Find out how to use these five simple PR tactics to help you build a solid leadership brand.
When you think about leaders, you might think of Jeff Bezos or Bill Gates – both of which made significant advances in tech. Not only are they extraordinary thinkers, but they are also teachers that people want to learn from.
Becoming a thought leader takes a lot of time, effort, and of course, knowledge.
PR and thought leadership work together in building an effective strategy. To become a thought leader, one must have a plan to obtain leadership status within their specific industry. They have to demonstrate their ideas publicly and voice their opinion—what better way to do that than with some good ol' PR strategies.
Everything that goes into becoming a thought leader begins with PR.
To build credibility and relationships with investors and journalists, a PR agency is the best place to turn to. PR professionals already have a list of contacts ready to go along with the added benefit of being trusted across the industry.
This helps when collaborating with different outlets like blogs, brands and podcasts to increase your impact. They are also the people who can put your foot in the door with your innovative thought leadership.
What Is a Thought Leader?
The definition of a thought leader is hazy and a little bit all over the place. In the most literal sense, a thought leader is someone whose views on a subject are substantial and influential. They are an expert in the field, have a loyal audience and act as a reputable authority figure.
It is the journey to becoming a thought leader that is the most vital piece of the process. A thought leader's goal is essentially to grab the audience's attention. A great deal of hard work goes on in the background to make it all run smoothly. To get to that beginning point, there are many questions one has to ask before delving in.
For example, a future thought leader must know what they stand for and what their vision is. It might be revolutionary to them, but finding people who will push that vision forward is just as important as coming up with the idea itself.
Once an audience is found, it is a thought leader's job to pay attention and give them what they want. Results come from engaging with the audience on platforms they are big on by generating awareness.
Is it starting to sound familiar? It's like the strategies to becoming a thought leader are identical to those used by PR agencies, from collaborations to contacts.
How to Use PR to Become a Thought Leader
Still not convinced that PR is the gateway to becoming a thought leader? Check out these five reasons why both go hand in hand when it comes to building your leadership brand:
- Know your audience
- Effective outreach
- Building credibility in the industry
- Collaborate on projects
- The power of in-person communication
1. Know Your Audience
Becoming a thought leader isn't as easy as just putting your ideas or work out for the world to find. It's even worse if no one is looking for it. This is why before even beginning to distribute your work, you have to know what kind of content to produce and who to target.
A lot of people don't know their audience. This is a huge PR mistake that can ultimately tank any thought leadership campaign. Understanding what your audience is looking for makes the task of creating content that much easier. By focusing on a niche or a large industry sector, there is more room for creativity and less for ambiguity.
2. Effective Outreach
Now that you know who you are writing for, it's time to get a distribution strategy in place. You should be creating content consistently, and it only means something if it's reaching the right people. Knowing ahead of time how to personalize content for different social channels makes the process easier and less time-consuming.
Having multiple mediums to distribute content to consistently is what builds up a good portfolio and exemplifies your expertise. Joining conversations with your audience on trending topics via your social channels and sharing your thoughts and strategies is a part of efficient outreach.
Using what is available to you, such as live streams and blog posts to talk about your content, is a great way to gain a regular stream of traffic. Your audience will look forward to viewing content being published every week or even every day. This form of regular communication will allow you to learn more about what you can alter in your strategy and what is working and what is not.
3. Building Credibility in the Industry
So, you've got your audience all sorted and have experimented with what content works best for them. You've built a good relationship with your loyal following, but what about the relationship with industry professionals and finding investors?
Simply posting content is not enough to become a thought leader. Establishing relationships with businesses in your industry and earning the title as a credible source is crucial to successful thought leadership. This is one of the main tasks many PR agencies are hired for and is another instance where thought leadership and PR cross paths.
Being truthful with your audience, investors and industry professionals is the path to a successful business relationship. People in your industry need to know why to support whatever it is your selling. By building that sense of trust and demonstrating your expertise, you're not only building your credibility, but also a reputation as a leader worth listening to and engaging with.
4. Collaborate on Projects
Social media today is full of collaboration between brands and leaders trying to increase their impacts. Whether it is a guest post, speaking engagement or video, collaborations are an excellent way to take your thought leadership one step further.
Collaborations are a win-win strategy because both sides get to learn from each other. Partners can provide a fresh new perspective on your thought leadership from an outside point of view. By keeping an open mind, many of the provided tips can expand the value of your content.
PR comes into play in many forms here. As mentioned before, PR agencies come ready with a list of reputable contacts. Collaboration itself is a form of public relations and a big one at that.
Reaching out and gaining the opportunity to put your name with the name of a high-prolific exec in your industry is a huge step in increasing your impact. This can be done by seeking out collaborations on your own or with the support of a trusted PR professional.
5. The Power of In-Person Communication
In a post-COVID-19 world, this one seems a bit hard to grasp. In-person communication can now count as remote Zoom calls or Live Streams, because even from behind a computer screen, the concept of directly speaking to an audience is still present.
To be a thought leader is to be a teacher, and to be a teacher is to communicate your knowledge powerfully. Writing content is a great place to start, but physically speaking about it is where the engagement lies. If you get off to a rough start, an excellent place to begin is by transforming your best-written articles into a speaking outline.
Once you're satisfied with your speaking content, get that information out there in the form of a video, live broadcast, podcast or industry event. It takes time to develop confident speaking abilities, and the best way to succeed is by staying consistent with speaking engagements.
When the requests for speaking engagements come pouring in, it's necessary to accept only what you know will impact your value and where your target audience will be.
If it wasn't proven before, it is now. There is no denying that PR is the natural gateway to becoming a thought leader. The strategies implemented are those that signify the PR industry. From innovative content to building a trustworthy relationship, it's the concise strategy that makes a thought leader.
As long as there is a plan in action, all that there is left to do is put those creative, leading-edge on paper and build your legacy. Keep your mind open, be ready to face some obstacles along the way and stay true to your vision.
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