Entrepreneurial ambition & growthMarketing

The importance of thought leadership in the PR campaign

A guest article by MD2MD member Ashley Carr, Managing Director of Neo PR.

In order to succeed it is important that organisations stand out from the crowd. This can be done in a variety of ways – from impeccable customer service, innovative product design or by clever positioning of the business leader(s) as a thought leader in the industry, with views that reflect to your customer and prospect base that you truly understand their businesses. And one way to achieve this is through PR.

As the leader of an organisation you will inevitably have strong views on your industry and how your organisation can help address the issues and pain points your customers face (even if you don’t think you, trust me, you’d be surprised!).

So we have asked MD2MD member Ashley Carr, Managing Director of Neo PR to describe how you can channel your inner thought leader and help your organisation be heard above the competition.

To be a true ‘thought leader’, you need both hands-on experience of the intra-day workings of your industry as well as the ‘entrepreneurial passion’ or motivation to creatively lead and change the industry. From my experience, most entrepreneurs and SME business leaders, will have both this experience and drive in spades – why else are they doing what they are doing?

But even with knowledge and passion, thought leadership can be tricky to get right. Thought leadership needs to be ‘talking to the market, about the market’. It needs to be informative, educational, market changing. And it needs to be with substance. Organisations shouldn’t try to do thought leadership if it is forced. Likewise, organisations shouldn’t confuse trend analysis, product pitches or market statistics with thought leadership; they are fundamentally different things.

A campaign of thought leadership must not be embarked upon without treating it as any other marketing campaign. If you’ve only loaded one bullet into the barrel when you’ve got to fire six, your campaign will fail. You’ve got to be building ideas and fleshing them out for a campaign months in advance so that you don’t run dry of material half way through. You’ve also got to be able to respond to how other people react to your opinion. Have a library of thought leadership material where one can respond to inbound responses to your opinion and ideas. Create a dialogue with your audience that really discusses the issues.

It is also increasingly important to integrate thought leadership into the social media landscape – the combined demands of thought leadership and social media mean that you need content, high in both breadth and depth of topic area and in volume. You also need the ability to be able to slice and dice it. Unfortunately, as is well documented, true thought leaders, entrepreneurs, may not always be the best communicators and may tend to be quite introvert. Organisations may therefore need an intermediary between the thought leader and the pipeline, be that a social media dedicated content generator or PR. An intermediary who can manage the generation of content, and manage the distribution of that content into the various channels.

However you achieve it, though, be that independently or in through a content generation partner, there is no doubt that by having an informed, relevant and passionate dialogue with your audience, you will raise both your own profile and that of your business head and shoulders above the rest.

Ashley Carr NeoPR
A guest post by MD2MD member Ashley Carr, Managing Director of Neo PR.