Thought Leadership Defined

Like crowdsourcing or search engine optimization, Thought Leadership has become a buzzword in public relations that is often misunderstood and misused. What is Thought Leadership, who writes Thought Leadership posts and why is it important?

What is Thought Leadership?

Thought Leadership was coined 20 years ago in the pages of Strategy+Business after then-Editor-in-Chief Joel Kurtzman stated “those worth talking to were called Thought Leaders.” As the idea spread, lengthier definitions were introduced by a variety of publications intrigued by this new phrase. According to Mashable, when a person’s idea multiplies and distributes itself throughout the Internet, then that leadership becomes Thought Leadership.

Similar to content marketing, the creation of relevant and valuable content, Thought Leadership is crucial for marketing, branding and public relations in today’s age of constantly connected consumers. Thought Leadership can be a blog, white paper or even social media posts that dive deep into issues to establish an individual or a company as a go-to expert.

Who is a Thought Leader?

Anyone can write self-proclaimed Thought Leadership posts. However, the real question is who should write Thought Leadership posts? Forbes says a true Thought Leader is “an individual or firm that prospects, clients, referral sources, intermediaries and even competitors recognize as one of the foremost authorities in selected areas of specialization, resulting in its being the go-to individual or organization for said expertise.”

At Schroder Public Relations, we couldn’t agree more. We consider ourselves Atlanta’s leader in content marketing and provide daily, hard-hitting content for our clients in their areas of expertise from healthcare to real estate to law. Anyone with a stake in a brand should always be soaking in industry knowledge. However, Thought Leaders take it one step further and have ,unique ideas that transcend traditional industry knowledge.

How does Thought Leadership Benefit a Business?

Thought Leadership isn’t just for experts to share their wealth of knowledge and ideas to help out other industry competitors. Providing Thought Leadership is a lucrative power play that is designed to grow a business.

Though you may already be part of a steady business with great clients, more opportunities are always within reach. Thought Leadership can bring you more press  and respect in your respective industry. “Being seen as an industry leader can bring in press that will give your business more exposure, but it’s also a great way to network and meet potential partners,” said Lauren Hockenson in Mashable. Not only will Thought Leadership solidify your current business as a legitimate player in your industry, it will also open doors for growth.

Newton’s First Law of Motion says every object (in this case, business) tends to remain in that state of motion unless an external force is applied. If your content and brand are stagnant, your business will become stagnant, too. To continue to grow your business, you must stay in the forefront of the industry, always asking, and answering, “What’s next?”

It’s not what you know…or is it?

What is media relations really? Is it maintaining strong relationships with local, regional and even national media contacts? Or is it scouring the newspapers, magazines, Internet sites, TV stations, radio stations and all the other outlets out there, until you find a reporter?

To answer that, let me take you back to Auburn University, in Rick Smith’s Mass Communications class. Rick said, “It’s not what you know. It’s who you know. Now, I, and your other professors will teach you the ‘what,’ but it’s up to you to find the who.”

As PR pros, it is our job to know to whom we are pitching our ideas. Schroder PR prides itself on having strong media contacts. I have met reporters and editors through the firm, my colleagues, through clubs and organizations in which I am involved and even Twitter! I also utilize our subscription to the database of thousands of reporters to find which beats reporters cover and how they liked to be contacted.

Part of the ‘what’ is knowing what the ‘who’ is writing. As Bailee wrote in “Reader of the News,” we are constantly reading publications, websites and any other news sources out there to keep updated with reporters’ works.

Another part of the ‘what’ that I’ve learned at SPR is having a complete story and messaging. We know what is and is not interesting, and so do reporters. Don’t pitch reporters with untimely or boring subjects!

So, does Schroder PR get hired for media relations based solely on our relationships with reporters? No. Do we get hired because we subscribe to every eNewsletter and paper, and read/watch/listen to as many outlets as we can? I don’t think so. I think we understand that media relations is, simply put, not only about who, but also about what you know.…read the full article here.

Why that journalist isn’t responding to you

Yes or no. Why don’t they just respond to me?

That’s one of the top complaints PR people have about journalists and it’s no wonder. We all hate to be ignored. Why can’t they just send an email telling you whether they are interested or not. It just takes a few seconds, right?

A lot of journalists, me included, receive more than 300 emails a day. Another thing to remember is that most journalists are working with constant deadlines. They have to remain focused on meeting those deadlines. And that can mean less time to respond to pitches such as yours.

This was a hard reality for me to swallow. I was raised as a well-mannered Southern girl who promptly writes thank-you notes following every occasion. I initially tried to respond to everyone who emailed me. Then I realized I could either take the polite route or I could take the professional route and actually get my work done.

So what can you do about it?

  • Do your homework before you send out a pitch. If you are targeting a few journalists in particular, spend a few minutes checking out their publications and what types of articles they write.
  • Don’t take it personally. If a journalist is not responding, chances are good that he or she is just not that into your pitch. It’s not personal.
  • Follow up, but only to a point. How you should follow up varies by each journalist. I don’t mind a follow-up email asking me if got their press release or the occasional phone call. But a lot of journalists would rather pick up a hissing rattlesnake than answer a follow-up phone call and they will more often than not respond poorly.

I wish I had a magic solution. Journalists and PR folk may often have an uneasy alliance. But we need each other to do our jobs.…read the full article here.

In PR, we are always looking for the next big thing. After the past few weeks, I’m convinced you’re looking at it.

Public Relations professionals are ever diligent about placing their clients in forums that best present their offering to a potential customer audience. We especially appreciate a platform that allows us to control our clients’ message. While social media gets a lot of the attention these days, the best PR work is usually seen in a longer form such as blogs, essays, white papers, columns, op-eds and now Thought Leadership.

Though Leadership is sponsored content columns presented on the right side of SaportaReport’s Weekly Update and on each page of its website. It’s a relatively new concept that positions brands and clients alongside entries from respected journalists.

Last week, I received a call from a prospective client who had been considering hiring a PR firm for years, but had never made the move. When he opened up the SaportaReport Weekly Update and read the journalism columns, his eyes wandered over to our PR column. He clicked through, read through several past weekly entries, picked up his phone and called me to invite me in to talk later that same afternoon. We had a very productive meeting and he’s now considering a proposal to engage us on an annual basis. All because of our Thought Leadership column.

If you are a PR firm and seek to ensure your clients are taking advantage of new opportunities, I strongly recommend you to present this new emerging platform. Not only do your clients get to share an audience of 14,000+ recipients of the Weekly Update and 50,000 unique visitors to the SaportaReport website – they can “own” a topic exclusively.

As SaportaReport grows in stature and influence, your clients’ opportunities will as well. So take the lead and explore this new medium for your clients. Secure their topic before a competitor does. I believe you’ll agree, it’s the next big thing….read the full article here.

Trending: I hear people say they don’t read eNewsletters any more, but this past week has proved just the opposite

I’ve been so busy this past year that when Schroder PR Account Manager Sarah Funderburk would ask me every few months how the firm was going to celebrate its 10th anniversary, I’d just shrug my shoulders, shake my head and gaze back into my computer. Lucky for me, I’m not in charge of anniversaries.

One afternoon a few weeks ago, I was wondering why Sarah kept asking me questions about an upcoming presentation as I was trying to get out the office door. Suddenly, my wife and our firm’s editorial director Jan Schroder walked in while the other teammates grabbed champagne and cupcakes. “We just couldn’t let you go any longer without celebrating our 10th anniversary,” Sarah said. I grabbed a camera and snapped a group photo in our Rhodes Hall office.

Last week, just before we pressed “send” on the latest issue of Clear Messages, our PR firm’s company eNewsletter that included our champagne and cupcake team photo, I suggested we change the subject line to reflect our milestone. “Clear Messages:” it read. “Schroder PR celebrates 10th anniversary.”

A few minutes after we sent that email to exactly 2,195 folks – many of whom I threw in at the last minute out of my address book and from whom I hadn’t heard anything in years – my own email inbox began to fill up. Before the week was out, I had received 157 emails with personal congratulatory notes.  I received emails from high school classmates, college roommates, clients, competitors, former bosses from my 1980s days at The Greenville News – even one from Wendy Binns, the current owner of Atlanta INtown, whom I hired out of college years ago.

Today, with eNewsletters, we can monitor and report specific numerical data in real time. For example, this edition of Clear Messages was opened by 590 recipients, for an open rate of 31%, which is 16% above the industry average, our electronic reporting tells us. We also know 93 of our recipients clicked through to read more at our firm’s website.

In 2013, PR professionals are blessed with an ever-growing array of communication platforms through which to promote our clients and our causes. In the coming years, we’ll be helping clients use communication vehicles that are not even invented yet. No matter what we end up doing, one element in our campaign will be the eNewsletter and it will still warm our hearts when you press reply and let us know in a few words – or characters – that you still care.…read the full article here.

Maker’s Mark gets a lesson in brand identity

Every southerner knows that messing with bourbon is a surefire way to not get invited back to a party.  Except Maker’s Mark. Beam Inc., the parent company of the Kentucky bourbon, announced last week that due to the company’s success and the time it takes to age a batch of whiskey (six years), they could not keep up with demand. As a result, Beam announced they would be reducing the alcohol content from 90 to 84, diluting the alcohol to make more batches.

Maker’s Mark fans took to social media and voiced their opinion that they rather have no Maker’s Mark than pseudo-Maker’s Mark. Beam listened. Less than a week later, they reversed their decision.

Loyal consumers can be hard to come by and when you find them, you should hold on tight.  For those true fans of the bourbon that have been making purchase decisions based on this brand for some time, Maker’s Mark decision to compromise quality and keep the brand, affected the integrity of the brand.

Fortunately, Maker’s Mark heeded their customers’ outcries and kept their public relations blunder to just the one brand identity flop. By listening to their customers, they avoided diluting both their product and their brand.  Hopefully other brands will take note as well: When your message is getting through loud and clear, don’t tone it down!…read the full article here.