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So, your client wants to be a thought leader…

It’s one of the most common goals I hear when I talk to my clients and for good reason. But many clients don’t understand what it takes to reach the status as a thought leader—making the role of a public relations professional even more important.

Very simply, a thought leader is someone who is sought after for their expertise or knowledge on a particular subject. Thought leaders often have a solid reputation, influence within their communities, and are frequently turned to as subject-matter experts by media partners. But thought leadership isn’t something you designate yourself.

Thought leadership is demonstrated by how timely a leader can provide their opinion or testimony, the accuracy of the contribution they provide, and how prepared and consistent they can be when interacting with media partners.

Here are three, easy-to-seize opportunities to establish yourself, your clients, or your company leadership as thought leaders:

Focus on building relationships with media partners.

Thought leadership is often contingent on being top of mind, which requires an interpersonal relationship with a media partner. How can you help make a journalist’s life easier when there’s an impending deadline? By letting them know you’re available before the deadline. The more clearly you can outline your thought leader’s area of expertise and availability to participate in media opportunities—the easier the media know whom they can count on in crunch time.

Pay attention to your perspective(s).

Being a strong thought leader doesn’t just mean being available for media partners as needed. The strongest thought leaders pay close attention to the perspectives they offer—this means not talking about national, local, or industry trends, issues, or opportunities in the same way everyone else is or the same way you have before. Some of the best thought leaders have provocative perspectives that challenge the way things have always been done or seen.

Accept that your role as a thought leader is never complete. 

There’s no one way to approach thought leadership, and even when you, your client, or your company feels you’ve started to gain traction toward your goal—your job is never really complete. Thought leaders must work to stay ahead of trends and use their unique expertise and perspectives to lend insights to those around them. That is, after all, the kind of influence most thought leaders desire.

But if I’m being honest, there’s one thing I want you to take away from this post: Thought leadership is a long-term, strategic play. It won’t happen overnight, and it shouldn’t. Being a thought leader means you’ve put in the time and earned the trust of the audience you influence—something that shouldn’t be taken lightly.

Curious what more you can do to establish yourself as a thought leader? Let’s chat. Comment below or send me a message so we can continue the conversation.

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