You are already an expert in your field but becoming a thought leader is considered the holy grail of PR and marketing. It’s when you’re called by the BBC News to be an expert on a breaking story, when the most respected industry trade magazine calls you for your opinion and when you’re asked to speak at those all-important industry events.
But in this noisy world where everyone has an opinion, how do you become a thought leader? How do you elevate yourself and the brand you represent, with your own clear, well thought out viewpoint?
The initial stages to becoming and staying a thought leader is taking the time to thoroughly Research & Formulate your thoughts before Communicating them with the media. Follow our tried and tested steps to get you started:
STAGE 1: RESEARCH THE 5 BE’s
Focus on something you are passionate about. You must genuinely love your subject. If you care, you will come across as authentic and credible. To remain current, you will need to keep abreast of the latest thinking relating to your area of expertise – reading widely is an essential practice for a thought leader as is talking to other experts to fine tune your opinions.
Research your area properly so that you are informed on different possible perspectives.Consider topical issues, those in the news – for example; climate change, autonomous ships and piracy, and develop your opinion on them. Writing and news reporting is rarely impartial, so think about what
the motivation might be behind the various documented opinions you read.
BE EVIDENCE DRIVEN
Evaluate which angles have the most merit, and document these. Having looked at the main options, consider the evidence that the opinions are based on. Draw up a list of evidence the writers refer to and evaluate which you think is the most robust and persuasive. Which do you find the most compelling?
Develop your opinion with appropriate proof points.As you develop your opinions, remember to keep detailed notes and annotate your text so that you can keep track of where your influences have come from. Depending on the material format you produce, you may need to quote sources.
Create visual representations of your idea.Wherever possible, create models, illustrations, infographics or even cartoons to bring your ideas to life. If you struggle with this, find someone who can help you. Remember, different people engage with, and absorb, information in different ways; by using graphics you can simplify complex concepts, increasing your chances of engaging with more people.
KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE
It’s critical to be clear about who you want to engage withbecause this will inform the tone and intellectual level you need to adopt in your language, content and presentation style. For example, the BBC News traditionally broadcasts news stories in a way that an average 14-year old can understand – this means researchers and interviewers drill down to the essence of a story, sometimes appearing to oversimplify it in order to make it accessible to its broad audience. Other media organisations will have a different approach or style.
STAGE 2: FORMULATE
PULL TOGETHER YOUR THOUGHTS IN A ‘THINK PIECE’
With the information you have researched, draft a minimum of 100 words on each of the points below… alternatively, you can record your thoughts into a voice recorder. Ask yourself the following questions:
- Why do you care about this?
- Why should your audience care about?
- What facts/developments do they need to be aware of?
- What common assumptions/mistakes are made when trying to deal with this and why are they wrong?
- Can you provide some examples of good and bad practices… – names, case studies, more names!
- How do you propose this issue could be approached? Identify your evidence for suggesting this could work.
- Map out the resistance you anticipate to your proposal, quote naysayers. Explain why you believe these naysayers to be wrong.
- Summarise what you expect to achieve if your approach is followed.
- Draft your introduction… and your conclusion.
Once you have your 1000+ words, take your draft to a colleague or your PR company, to review and provide constructive comment. For your key ‘Think Piece’, do not aim for a word count. You are aiming to produce a thoroughly researched, well argued, interestingly composed opinion that will provoke responses in thought, word or deed. And when you have done that – stop.
With your Think Piece done, your next challenge is to get your opinions out there!
For help on how to reach the right media outlets and audiences, don’t miss our Stage 3 article on Communication coming soon or request our full FREE guide on How to become a Thought Leader at email@example.com
If you have reached the end of the blog and you’re not sure you have the time to action this, contact us to do the heavy lifting for you firstname.lastname@example.org.
This blog is part of our series Event Publicity: The Gold Standard.
For a FREE DOWNLOAD of our full guide, with handy checklists to keep you on track and space to scribble down your creative thoughts, please email email@example.com
Trade shows are meccas of newsworthy announcements because they provide the perfect launch pad to reveal new products, offer thought leadership from industry experts, and discuss industry trends. Media and consumers alike pay close attention to event news. If your company has a presence planned at an upcoming trade show or exhibition, you need to be prepared with the story you are there to tell. You need to create a press release that will get you noticed.
Identifying the Story
Before you put pen to paper, ensure you ALWAYS ask yourself the following questions:
Is my story ‘news’? Is it something that hasn’t been released to the press before and is it relevant or useful to your target audiences.
Have you secured third party permission to release the information? You don’t want to upset existing or potential clients or leak news too soon… take particular care to check facts and quotes.
What is the hook that will engage the journalist? You need to know what the USP of your story is and communicate it clearly.
See our tips on What journalists Do and Don’t want from a story.
What are the key messages you want to convey? Stick to having no more than 3, otherwise your key message will get lost.
How to Write an Effective Press Release
Answered the above? You are now ready to write the Press Release.
Beat writers block by using our 5 W’s to help you write a stand out piece that will grab the media attention you are after.
WHO you are working with:
WHAT difference have you made:
WHEN did this take place:
WHERE did it happen:
WHY should anyone take notice of this:
Your Final Check List
You’ve broken the back of it but time to top and tail your story and tick off to ensure everything is covered.
You have the Angle right. Make sure your story has thefollowing attributes: It’s timely and unique, newsworthy or contrary to industry norms and trends.
You have a concise Headline. Keep it punchy. Use less than ten words. The title should clearly signpost the key point presented in the opening paragraph.
It is written in the Third-Person. A Press Release must be presented objectively. Refrain from expressing personal opinions unless in quotes. Remember, you are the voice of your business or organisation, not an individual.
You have included relevant Quotes. Journalists will use these to add an authoritative voice to their reports. Don’t waste quotes with ‘bland’ statements – say something intelligent and analytical and make sure the person who is saying it carries credibility or industry weight.
And don’t forget your ‘Notes to Editors’ section. Editors may want to follow up – make it easy for them, including all relevant contact details if they want more info, relevant social media hashtags, and any short facts (like recent awards or accolades) about your company that may be useful.
For more tips on prepping for a Trade Show or Industry event read our Event Publicity Countdown.
If you need any more help with managing your PR at an upcoming event, please get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Now there’s a phrase I hear all the time, particularly when out socialising and I’m asked the obligatory “so what do you do?”. That’s when I hear the phrase “well, there’s no such thing as bad PR”. Frankly, that’s codswallop. There is bad PR. Let me talk you through some examples.
Firstly, let’s get really clear here. Just because you don’t have a PR budget, or a PR/marketing manager looking after your PR, doesn’t mean you don’t have PR. Every business has PR – it’s simply a case of whether it’s being managed or not. Why? Your reputation is active, it moves, it changes.
Imagine your company reputation is like a yacht on an ocean. The sails are up and it’s being caught in the wind. You may think you’ve anchored it in place, but the elements have a mind of their own and your yacht is drifting. Without someone navigating, your yacht is at the mercy of the weather. And before you know it a great big unpredicted wave could cause your yacht to crash. So if you’re being inactive with your PR I challenge you to consider who’s navigating your company reputation? Are you in charge, or are unknown forces in control? We believe that all business leaders need a media profile.
Secondly, there’s been a major trend in reactive PR. You’ve probably seen examples of it without knowing that’s what it is specifically, but you know how it makes you feel. It just feels wrong. It doesn’t make sense, and there’s little connection. Its where we see a company respond to a news story but don’t say anything of substance. They’re simply jumping on the efforts of others and riding on their coat tails while saying nothing of importance. No don’t even get me started on vanity PR, which also falls into this category, where arrogance or self-importance drives the communication rather than the needs of the business.
Finally, what about PR that is pushed out without purpose, measurement or focus, “proactive” PR. It’s like dropping a stone in the middle of the Atlantic and expecting the ripples to hit Cornwall. For me, this is the worst kind of PR. It’s an insult to your media contacts, your audience and damages your professional standing. It demonstrates a lack of thought, strategy and standards. Not only that it reflects poorly on your brand and is simply a waste of money. Poor proactive PR is quite possibly the worst type of PR there is – it’s being wilfully negligent of your reputation.
That’s why when I’m asked what I “do for a living” I don’t say I’m in PR. I say I’m a communications specialist. Because I don’t want to be associated with bad PR. Our communications are accountable, effective and provocative. We create compelling ideas. We care deeply. We care what our clients say. We care how their audiences respond. And we always evaluate the impact.
If you want to engage a PR company but down know where to start here are 7 questions you should ask a PR company before you hire them. To find out more about Emmett & Churchman click here.