Elevating senior leadership’s exposure is important for any organization, but many don’t know where to start. Creating a successful thought leadership platform requires a customized approach specific to each company. The common thread is to strategically engage executives, and to lend their unique areas of expertise across multiple platforms. Here are some tips to get thought leadership efforts off the ground.
IDENTIFY THE EXPERTS
To start, identify top thought leaders within the organization. These leaders should embody corporate values, and/or have a unique area of expertise. Once you’ve zeroed in on top subject matter experts, industry thought leaders and the ideal voice(s), you can create a strategic plan for elevating the individuals as well as your brand among key target media outlets and their audiences.
DEVELOP A MESSAGING FRAMEWORK
Spanning every thought leadership effort, it’s important to ensure all ambassadors are speaking in a consistent voice across each blog, social post, speech, panel discussion, media interview, influencer engagement, etc. To provide that foundation, develop a comprehensive messaging framework that doubles as key talking points for your thought leaders. In addition, draft bios that highlight their experience and expertise when you begin your external media outreach.
SECURE EDITORIAL COVERAGE
Based on the expertise of your internal thought leaders, find relevant media opportunities for them to share their insights. For timely opportunities on a local and national level, monitor the news cycle for conversations where your company has a unique perspective to share and offer interviews where applicable.
Pinpoint industry events, conferences and trade shows with speaking opportunities or panel discussions on topics that are relevant to your brand and offering. Since these events book early, reach out well in advance with a pitch or abstract highlighting your thought leader’s unique perspective and speech topic as well as a bio. As you continue to cultivate thought leadership, consider partnering with other organizations to host your own event or panel for added credibility.
ENGAGE WITH INFLUENCERS
Research top industry influencers to make initial connections and foster relationships. Follow them on social, join conversations they are a part of, retweet them when it’s relevant to your brand, etc. From there, take it offline and suggest meeting for coffee at industry events to further build a relationship and determine opportunities to collaborate.
COMMIT TO CONTENT
Create a cadence for owned and contributed media content that aligns with each leader’s area of expertise and your organizational pillars. Develop an editorial calendar for your company’s blog and social platforms to ensure that fresh content is populated on a regular basis, and that each thought leader taps into timely events to share their expertise. Also, pitch ideas based on your company’s and thought leaders’ unique perspectives to key media outlets by offering fully written bylined articles. Key element to remember here: do not make this a commercial for your brand, but an informative, insightful and educational article for the industry. Another key element for ongoing success: once you start, don’t stop – it’s essential to commit to content and keep it coming.
Most importantly, remember that thought leadership is not one size fits all. Every organization has its own story to tell, and while some are more compelling than others, most have an untapped opportunity to elevate exposure and add credibility through the most important part of the company: the people. By developing a customized strategy, confirming an organizational commitment and empowering executives, cultivating thought leadership is undoubtedly within your reach and can help move awareness for your company to the next level.