The importance of thought leadership in digital PR

The importance of thought leadership in digital PR

Thought leadership tends to be a bit of a buzzword at the minute, and you’d be forgiven for thinking that the extent of it consists of your favourite LinkedInfluencer reposting Stephen Bartlett’s quotes captioned ‘food for thought…’Similarly, digital PR executives across social media seem to concentrate on getting those juicy links, meaning that the art of establishing authority within a field, and positioning yourself as a thought leader, is often overlooked.

Demonstrating thought leadership isn’t as sexy as it sounds, it takes time, patience, and consistency, and many don’t favour playing the long game. But, by becoming a thought leader in your field, you prepare your digital presence for the years to come; you’re essentially setting the foundations for success in the future. There are more content creators than ever before, but often what’s lacking is the originality and the personal branding required to really make a difference in your field. Why should people listen to what you’re saying? Are you adding real value or can they get it elsewhere? Why should they trust you? All of these questions are vital, and developing your personal brand means a delicate balancing act between providing value and showing your personality. No one sticks around for half-arsed attempts to rehash someone else’s content. Thought leadership done right means that you’re one of the first ports of call in your industry for commentary on breaking topics, which doesn’t happen overnight. So, how do you approach thought leadership meaningfully and in a way that generates results in the long term?

Why should you establish your messaging?

People tend to underestimate the importance of this first step, and this can be seen across ‘thought leaders’ that come across completely differently in the press than they do on their personal LinkedIn page. Of course, it’s great to have an opinion and be vocal about it, but if there’s a disparity between the messaging you put out across different channels with wildly different views, you’re essentially fast-tracking to failure as your audience can’t distinguish your true opinion. Some variation between channels is fine, you wouldn’t post on Instagram, LinkedIn, or Twitter in the same way you’d give an official press statement on behalf of your company, however directly undermining what you’ve said in the press has the potential to deteriorate your image over time, and depending on what you’ve said, cause a PR nightmare.

Key tips:

· Consider which industries you can add meaningfully to, for a lot of people this is as simple as honing in on the industry you currently work or specialise in, however, don’t overlook related areas or smaller sub-sectors.

· What are your key takeaways? If you could sit someone down for half an hour what are the key pieces of information you would want them to take from the conversation? How would you want them to describe you? These are vital questions to ask when developing your messaging.

· Take a look at the other thought leaders in the industry you want to tap into- where does your messaging vary? What can you add to the conversation that isn’t currently there?· Enlist a digital PR agency that has specialist knowledge of thought leadership and personal branding to devise your key messaging and brand to carry across all PR efforts.

Creating content that connects

It’s not enough just to churn out content; sure, you’re checking the consistency box but if there’s no value or original messaging in the content then what’s the point? Creating quality content that connects with your target audience requires a combination of understanding your audience, their pain points, and what they want to see and delivering on this in a way that’s different from what’s currently available. Similarly, you cannot continuously create content without engaging with the people that are viewing it or other thought leaders/people of influence within the industry. Engagement is just as important as creation when it comes to establishing yourself as a leader within the field, particularly on platforms like LinkedIn and Twitter that rely on engagement as a key metric for growth.

Key tips:

· Creating content on your path to becoming a thought leader may feel like trial and error at first, however by keeping track of key metrics and analysing which posts work and which don’t, you can refine this process over time.

· Don’t be afraid to show some humanity- people are more likely to connect with you and respond to what you’re saying if they relate on some level.

Whether your business has been in the press or not, if you haven’t established personal branding or thought leadership as a CEO then you’re missing out on a vital component of marketing strategy. Becoming a thought leader is by no means an easy feat, however with the right strategy and approach, and consistency over time, it’s one of the most rewarding aspects of digital PR. It can often be difficult to measure your influence when it comes to thought leadership. Still, you’re on the right path if other key players in the industry are reaching out to get your insight on the latest topic and you’re receiving increased opportunities as a direct result of your content, personal branding, and PR efforts.

This post was brought to you by..
Schaunagh Gleeson
PR Executive

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