There are many ways to raise your organisation’s reputation, or your reputation as an individual, through the media.
Press releases, photo opportunities, media events and pitching are all powerful tools and have a strong chance of gaining quality media coverage.
Thought leadership or opinion pieces should also be considered among this list. But what is it?
Thought leadership is your take on a topic for discussion or news item. These opportunities allow you to stand out from everyone else, because you are presenting your own expertise on something.
A thought leadership piece will usually come from the individual, however, remember that this will reflect on your company’s brand and reputation so, it is worthwhile to ensure they two are aligned.
Thought leadership opportunities
There are many different opportunities for thought leadership and it is important to ensure you choose the right one for you. But before you chose the opportunity, make sure that opportunity speaks directly to the audience you want to reach.
Expert blogs in news outlets, either online or in print.This could be mainstream media or trade press outlets. Both are just as valuable as each other.
Social media. Creating social media content with your opinion will allow you to reach your audience. This could be videos for twitter or short written pieces for LinkedIn.
Proactive media comment. When a breaking story happens, news outlets are often looking for experts to comment on it or talk about the context surrounding it. The trick is, to be timely and to know who to contact on the news desk to take advantage of the opportunity.
Speaking at events.Conferences, online seminars, networking events are all important ways to get your opinion out there.
So, we’ve established what a thought leadership piece is and what opportunities there are, but why is this type of content important to include in your PR strategy?
PR is all about building relationships with your target audience and giving them more insight into you and your organisation. Thought leadership pieces offer an opportunity to position yourself as an authoritative voice on a subject and allow you to set yourself apart from your competitors.
Thought leadership builds trust with your audience. In 2019, global communications firm Edelman and LinkedIn conducted a study into the impact of thought leadership. The survey was fielded to 1,300 business-to-business (B2B) professionals on LinkedIn with titles ranging from manager to CEO. 81% said thought leadership has increased their trust in a vendor organisation.
Thought leadership pieces could also lead to more media opportunities either at the time or in the future.
The fine print
However, there are a few things that need to be considered when choosing to include thought leadership pieces in your PR plan.
Poorly executed thought leadership pieces can do more harm than good. In the study, previously mentioned, 45% of respondents said they “lost respect and admiration” for organisations that tried to pass off sloppy or poorly conceived work as thought leadership.
Here are a few tips to help you get it right
– Talk about a topic you know. This is key. Do not try and comment on a subject you know little about. And, even if you know the subject inside and out, still do your research and make your piece water-tight.
– No sales please. This is an opportunity to showcase your expertise. It is tempting to include a sales pitch or details about your products. Don’t. People will switch off.
– Offer something new. Thought leadership pieces should aim to move the conversation forward. Don’t just rehash what has already been said.
– Time. If you are commenting on a breaking news story, outlets will want your comment soon after the story has broken. The next day is too late, unless the story is continuing, and new information has come to light. Then, see the previous bullet point.
Above all, a thought leadership piece should add value for the audience. If they value your opinion, they will value you.