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Lis Anderson, director, AMBITIOUS PR
Whether you're well versed in PR for your business, or you're trying it for the first time, you will have seen 'thought leadership', the need to 'build a thought leadership programme' or develop 'thought leadership content' discussed numerous times. Whether it's a new concept to you or not, applying it to your tech business is an effective way to capture interest, build brand credibility and trust. In fact, a thought leadership element is now an essential part of your marketing strategy, especially if you operate in a crowded market as it addresses so many marketing goals.
What is a thought leadership campaign?
In essence, a thought leader is a brand or group of business leaders that can deliver a steady stream of insightful content in creative ways, have great ideas combined with subject matter that tackles real world problems or pain points within your target market or is a go to resource for emerging trends.
A thought leadership strategy could take the form of long form content marketing, such as thought leadership articles, speaking engagements, a blog post on your website, guest posts, white papers, social media content or research findings.
If your brand has the desire to reach new target audiences and decision makers, thought leadership marketing should focus on developing helpful content that results in media coverage that's widely published. Whether in trade publications, vertical media or in a national, thought leadership material that appears in various sources online has the added bonus of being great for SEO and can mean that your brand appears higher up the rankings of search engines. It is also an effective way to create content for other channels such as social media platforms. Long form content in the form of white papers can also be fruitful lead generation exercises.
Identifying thought leaders within your business
It's incredibly important for the CEO to demonstrate thought leadership as part of a personal branding campaign. The CEO is a natural choice as a thought leader as they are 'steering the ship' so to speak. Their role can influence brand reputation in a powerful way and communicate the values and direction that you stand for as a business to its target audience.
But its also important to identify other subject matter experts within the organisation and develop a personal brand for them also. A wide variety of thought leaders can offer unique insights and innovative ideas to in such a way that create thought leadership content for a specific audience. Your internal thought leaders could include CTOs, CIOs as well as product and marketing experts. These authoritative sources can impart valuable information from different perspectives - helping to expand your reach. Many brands dismiss the value of having multiple subject matter experts as part of the content marketing strategy. The charm is that you can also benefit from the social media accounts of your thought leaders as new channels to communicate through to reach new audiences.
How do you pick your thought leadership content themes?
The best thought leadership strategies are developed with a deep understanding of your core brand values, brand voice and a thorough evaluation of your industry landscape.
A useful exercise would be to develop a messaging matrix which will inform your thought leadership content strategy. This will enable you to be focused on themes, target clients and competitive landscape and identify industry pain points to create thought leadership. Have a think about any unique perspectives that you hold as an organisation. For example, can you offer a new point of view or is there something you know that others perhaps don't? This intelligence and knowledge gathering is what could set you apart and improve your standing as a reliable source to the industry including journalists and target audience.
Research-led thought leadership strategy
If you operate within a crowded industry, it may be necessary to create thought leadership through original research. Identify any themes that are yet to be explored or can you reveal a new take on an existing problem or challenge in the industry? Industry research is well-respected and can generate high quality content. Where knowledge and understanding on a subject area is otherwise lacking, research can give you a data point to reference.
For example, many brands want to explore the challenges of hybrid working as it's set to change the corporate landscape. But with so many jumping on this as a thought leadership topic, it's difficult to provide actual valuable information based on opinion alone. By factoring in research, you can find out what issues the vast majority of businesses are facing and find your unique position on that.
How to create valuable content for your business
There is an element of groundwork involved for your thought leadership strategy to be successful. Having a deep understanding of your key messages will influence how you stand out. It will also help you to identify the themes that your business should be championing and track what competitors are doing.
For thought leadership content to be valuable for your business, it must evolve with your core messages and those of your key stakeholders. Get it right and it's a sure way to win hearts and minds.