Keeping the conversation going
Directly or indirectly, thought leadership is often the top priority in corporate communications. But it requires expertise as well as having the courage of your convictions.
In their own particular field of expertise, companies aspire to being the first point of reference for journalists, customers and in social media. If you want to position yourself as a thought leader, here are a few points to bear in mind.
Build a foundation
Above all you need quality content, preferably delivered via multiple channels. A content hub on your website is a good starting point for gathering and distributing content, and social media are a great catalyst when it comes to getting it to precisely the right audience. These are also good channels for dialogue with other experts in the field. Interaction helps you stay in conversation, as well as giving you an incentive to actively and regularly engage with your own topic. Ideally the people in your organisation should help distribute content – not forgetting management. Your leaders not only serve as role models in terms of sharing content, but also give this content a face and in the process position themselves as attractive contacts for the media to talk to.
There’s plenty of good content around. But if you want it to make you stand out from the crowd and earn you thought leadership, it needs that certain je ne sais quoi. The following three points are worth considering when creating content.
Set the trend, don’t follow it
Certainly the basis for establishing thought leadership has to be having an absolutely firm grasp of your chosen subject matter. But to position yourself as n driving force in your field requires more than simply demonstrating you have the relevant know-how. You also have to look ahead. Recognising trends early or even driving them gives your expertise greater depth and credibility. If you merely follow the trend or only jump on the bandwagon once it’s arrived, you’re not going to be able to establish yourself as a thought leader in the long term.
Connect your thinking
To avoid spreading yourself too thin it’s good to focus on a specific area or niche. At the same time you should always also keep the big picture in mind. Connecting your thinking with related topics, industries and businesses creates more points of reference, not only increasing the size of your potential audience, but also showing that your organisation thinks ahead and is interested in holistic solutions.
Reveal yourself and be authentic
Run-of-the-mill content and conformity aren’t interesting for readers, followers or customers. Despite this, many companies choose the path of least effort and resistance with vague content and non-committal statements. If you want people to listen to what you’re saying, don’t underestimate the power of clear views and opinions. They build recipients’ confidence and trust in the authenticity of your organisation. This requires courage – including the courage to say things people might not always agree with. Ultimately the same applies to media relations as to customers: the product or service has to be tailored to your audience. You can’t please all the people all of the time.