3 Ways to Create Thought Leadership

Amy Stern - 04/16/2021

The term thought leadership has been tossed around as a marketing buzz phrase for quite a while, but what does it mean? And what can it do for your company? In this blog post, we’ll define thought leadership, show you how to achieve it, and give you examples of how this strategy worked for our clients.

What is Thought Leadership?

Thought leadership establishes senior management as industry experts. Showcasing key executives in a public forum brings them down from the ivory tower andthought_leadership_public_relations makes them accessible to potential partners, customers and colleagues. This increased visibility can transform figure heads into thought leaders and key opinion leaders (KOLs).

For additional insight into thought leadership, check out the article on Entrepreneur.com entitled “What Exactly is Thought Leadership?”

The benefits are plentiful and include:

  • Increased Brand Awareness
  • Establishing Category Leadership
  • Expanding Target Demographics
  • Amplifying Market Differentiation
  • Creating Partnership Opportunities

How to Establish Thought Leadership

There are a variety of ways to establish thought leadership for senior management. This includes leveraging marketing tactics such as media relations, speaking opportunities and getting published.

Media Relations

I recently spoke to Authority Magazine about “5 Ways to Leverage Media Relations to Dramatically Grow Your Business.” The conversation reveals why I believe that media relations is a critical element that needs to be incorporated into any marketing strategy. Editorial coverage in print, broadcast and digital media reinforces brand awareness and educates audiences about your products and services. When key executives speak out, though, there is no more authentic way to communicate brand ethos and category leadership.

Every opportunity that allows your executives to share information further communicates to your target audience “why choose us.” Media interviews offer the chance to share new product announcements, and perspectives on emerging industry trends, breaking news and more. Regardless of whether it is a consumer or trade outlet, the credibility of the media property can elevate your brand’s status among consumers and customers. Media relations can take you from an unknown to a true contender.

One thing that becomes evident very quickly is how even a little bit of media coverage can create a snowball effect that leads to additional opportunities. Local press interviews will often get your thought leaders noticed by regional and national media, further amplifying their stature.

Speaking Opportunities

Speaking opportunities are also a valuable way to showcase your thought leaders. Whether it’s as a participant in a panel discussion or a solo performance as a keynote speaker, these appearances advance leadership’s credibility. It allows them to promote their experience and share real life examples that can educate and inspire others.

In addition to establishing a particular area of expertise, speaking opportunities allow executives to advance their position from figureheads to influencers. Remember that the opportunities can come in many forms. Examples include forums at trade shows, events sponsored by leading news outlets and alumni events that can reinvigorate old contacts while establishing new ones.

Podcasts and webinars are another great way to create thought leadership. A key benefit is their ability to attract a very targeted listener base, yet they are often valuable resources that often lie untapped.

A great example was our ability to secure a speaking opportunity for our client on a highly visible panel sponsored by one of New Jersey’s leading business publications. The client had created a technology-based platform that delivered 24-7 addiction recovery support to those in recovery from drug or alcohol addiction, but as a start-up he was lacking brand awareness. He was featured in the publication’s editorial coverage of the event. As importantly, his affiliation with the other panelists who were well-established leaders in New Jersey’s healthcare industry immediately made others sit up and take notice of his brand. In addition, the opportunity led to a partnership with his fellow panelist whose organization had the ability to purchase the platform for integration in its employee benefits package.

Getting Published

In addition to traditional media relations and speaking opportunities, getting published is another valuable way to achieve thought leadership:

OpEds – provide the opportunity to spotlight key thought leaders. Because they deliver opinions on the news from a personal perspective, they allow audiences to secure a more intimate connection with those in the Corner Office. OpEds give you freedom of expression, something that is often limited by traditional media interviews.

  • Blogs – deliver information that your target audience is searching for and position you as an expert as well as a problem solver. In addition to crafting blog content for your own website, look for opportunities to gain share of voice as a guest blogger on other sites that align with key values. These new platforms are places where you can not only engage with current customers but also have the potential to reach new audiences.
  • Newsletters – are a great tool to reinforce your brand while connecting with existing and potential customers. Weekly contact via email can convey brand updates, new product information, as well as other news.
  • Bylined articles – offer senior management increased share of voice that advances their reputation as key thought leaders. Public relations professionals are key to vetting and securing these opportunities that give their clients new ways to share information and connect with constituents.

Case Studies

QuVa Pharma – An emerging pharmaceutical brand entering the uber-specialized pharma category of compounding outsourcing hired us to help launch them in market. The challenge was magnified by the fact that we were launching the brand at a time when negative press regarding compounding and patient safety dominated the news. As a start-up, the company was at a major disadvantage competing with a category leader that had 70% of market share and dominated search activity as well.

Our communications strategy focused on the company’s key points of difference: its experienced leadership that had a keen understanding of the industry practices required to ensure patient safety, a key element that was lacking in the market leader. As part of an aggressive media relations campaign introducing the brand, we crafted key messaging that emphasized the company CEO.

Leveraging this long-time pharma exec, with a stellar safety record, our editorial strategy was focused on establishing him as a key thought leader. Our relationships with key trade media gave us a platform to introduce the CEO and sing his praises. We secured multiple interviews in leading industry publications.

We catapulted the brand from an unknown to an industry contender by securing multiple media interviews that provided the CEO with a platform that allowed his expertise to resonate beyond existing audiences. With interviews that allowed the CEO to share insights on emerging trends and safety practices, he was able to educate readers in the industry to the fact that there was a “better way.” We bundled media relations, speaking opportunities and bylined articles to cement his thought leadership resulting in the creation of a thought leader and a brand that continues to rise in the ranks.

When competitors as well as customers saw him quoted time and time again, you can be sure they began to inquire about the company. As we say, the rest is history

Saint Peter’s University Hospital – On a normal day, a single, independent hospital competing for its share of voice against mega healthcare systems faces an uphill battle. Now combine that with the media climate during the COVID-19 pandemic and things get especially challenging. Despite these challenges, we secured 35+ placements in local, regional, and national media. Here’s how we did it.

Are you looking to raise your profile? Let’s explore some solutions together; contact me at Astern@3epr.com

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