It’s one thing to identify relevant thought-leadership opportunities, a topic we’ve covered before in this article, “Five Ways to Turn Up the Volume on Thought-Leadership,” but it’s another thing to make certain that thought-leadership gets seen.
Thought-leadership helps working professionals establish their credibility as a trusted authority on an ongoing basis by providing practical insights about, and delivering answers to, the biggest questions on the minds of your target audience(s).You can share these practical insights through speaking engagements at relevant industry conferences or seminars (including virtual venues, which are the norm lately), via streaming video or audio on your or a third-party website; and/or through written content such as bylined articles, op/eds or FAQs on emerging trends.
Below are six tips to help ensure your thought-leadership gets seen by the people you wish to connect with most:
- Identify your audience and call-to-action first. Don’t try to cut corners by developing thought-leadership pieces that try to appeal to all or you will wind up crafting such generic content that it will cease to have value to those you want to communicate with most. Before you develop your piece, ask yourself the following questions: Who do I wish to reach? What is the main message I want them to remember? What action do I want them to take as a result of this outreach? The answers to those to questions will help determine what you say, how you say it, where you will publish or distribute it, even the layout, format and type of graphics (if any) you include.
- Publish your thought-leadership with a credible third-party news outlet. Whether you seek to attract new clients or customers or remind current ones what they value about you and your organization, nothing demonstrates that you are an authority in your field more than publishing thought-leadership pieces in those outlets your target audience(s) rely on most for their information. Be it a mainstream publication like Forbes, Bloomberg BusinessWeek or HuffPost or an industry trade magazine like American Banker, Renewable Energy World or Physician’s Weekly, these outlets set high standards when it comes to factual accuracy and quality content. By agreeing to publish your content, these outlets essentially endorse you as a reputable “expert,” which is far more effective than if you say it yourself.
- Pre-pitch your idea/angle to a third-party news outlet before you write it. Bear in mind that precisely because third-party news outlets have high editorial standards, no guarantees exist that they will accept your thought-leadership piece. The chances that an editor of a particular news outlet or trade association newsletter will agree to publish your content substantially increases, however, if you pre-pitch the article idea first. Pre-pitching also lets you learn about any upcoming deadlines and obtain the publication’s editorial guidelines such as word count restrictions, formatting rules or other requirements authors are expected to follow. Failure to follow such instructions significantly reduces your odds of being published.
- Make it as easy as possible to access your thought-leadership. While many organizations require users to “register” to download thought-leadership content to capture the user’s information to grow their target database, doing so can work against you if site visitors lack the patience or time to register or simply view doing so as an invasion of privacy. An alternative would be to give visitors to your website the option of filling out an online form which details their areas of interest, what types of new products or events they wish to be informed about on an ongoing basis. While not everyone will choose to complete such a form, it allows users to dictate how and when they are contacted, so that when you do reach out to them, they are far more receptive to your “pitch.” In the meantime, post your thought-leadership on your home page or via your Newsroom to maximize views.
- Repurpose content. If you’ve recently delivered remarks at a conference or taken part in a panel discussion, consider converting your notes into a bylined article, opinion piece, brief audio or video or FAQ and then try to place it with a third-party news outlet or, at a minimum, post on your own website or blog. That way you can extend your resources by getting at least two thought-leadership pieces out of one topic.
- Publicize your thought-leadership via social media or business networking sites like LinkedIn. Whether your thought-leadership is published by a third-party news outlet or is posted to your own blog or organization’s website, maximize the chance of it being seen by sending a link to it via your Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or other social media account. Unless you have an immensely popular blog or website of your own, you also will likely reach far more interested readers by posting the entire thought-leadership piece on LinkedIn Publisher, which allows you to not only reach all the people in your LinkedIn network, but also target certain LinkedIn groups who would have a particular interest in the topic. This will quickly allow you to grow your followers, boost your credibility and increase awareness of your expertise.
For more about developing effective thought-leadership campaigns, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 845.462.4979.
Note: This article is an updated version of a blog originally written by Sandi Sonnenfeld, former associate vice president at Impact PR & Communications.