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.