We work with amazing, compelling forward-thinkers every day throughout our campaigns. Often deemed thought leadership, creating content around the ideas and unique positions of our clients can come in many forms – bylined educational articles, opinion pieces, speaker proposals, awards, infographics, white papers, webinars, etc. One easy place for us to prioritize using thought leadership is in our media relations strategy. We’re talking more than the one-off newsjacking tactic or quick commentary on a trending story. That’s important too. But our approach takes a concerted effort to create content regularly from our thought leaders.
Here’s why we do it and why you should too:
It’s likely that you are already creating content or placing your ideas down somewhere that they can be easily pulled, tweaked and maximized. This could be your blog, sales presentations, or an industry report – all created for a different business unit or purpose, but it probably has PR value you haven’t considered. For our clients that are already doing this, we base a strategic portion of the campaign around maximizing what already exists. There’s no better way to align with business goals.
If you aren’t already creating any form of content, consider starting with company announcements you have planned for media relations and looking at how you might morph them into a less promotional, thought-provoking story. This can often be done by tying the news to an underlying trend. For example, one of our clients released a feature update related to the opioid crisis. Certainly we had very promotional coverage around the launch of the technology. But we also dug deeper into why this technology was created and utilized the doctor behind the technology to take a provocative stance on what was happening in the opioid crisis that would require the development of a solution like this in the first place. The result: a handful of bylined articles on the opioid crisis that positioned the company and its leadership as forward-thinking and challenging an industry that needs challenging.
What’s the benefit of showcasing an opinion or stance related to your product’s existence if you never get to mention it by name? It builds trust with your audience by demonstrating a deep understanding and credible level of expertise on the issues/challenges/opportunities you serve and your market. Coupled with hard-hitting news and updates on your company/product, your target audiences are made aware of your existence, then are provided additional insight into the leadership, the brand, the company behind the product or service they are buying. Though the client products are never mentioned in this piece, the CEO and company are profiled on a popular outlet aligned with the target audience discussing important elements behind the purpose of their business.
Many trade outlets only take bylined articles. Without it, you’ll never be written about there – enough said.
You control the narrative, and that is great for SEO. When you’re trying to push or create awareness around a new idea, thought leadership is a powerful thing. Because it comes from you directly, you determine (mostly) what the story looks like that you tell. As a result, you work in key terminology and strategic SEO that complements marketing efforts. This clip below highlights a conversation around haptic technology a client was looking to voice a different opinion on and tackle a common question the company got asked about. Published on VentureBeat, this was a valuable way to give the opinion credibility and awareness.
6. Let’s be honest – company announcements dry up sometimes. Being diligent about thought leadership content creates a steady cadence of earned media hits. Even better if you can land a regular contributorship at a target outlet!
So, what if you hate writing and don’t know where to start? Thought leadership is a joint effort between you and your PR team. Your PR team should be qualified in a space to help you get ideas, development and get drafts off the ground, then finalized. We do have clients that skip utilizing us for this portion of the campaign. After a few months, though, the scope usually shifts to include content creation services because of the time and commitment to the strategy.
Sometimes, thought leadership doesn’t come as naturally to executives. In that case, it’s our job to develop them. This process has depth and takes time to get there, but to get started, we’ve got a fun little worksheet of sample questions for download that often get the wheels turning.
Enjoy, and go get yourself out there!