What Is Thought Leadership (And Do You Need It)?

Thought leadership. It’s a term often heard in our office these days, and it has become a major reason that clients seek out our services. But what does it really mean? And more importantly, do you need it?

Defining thought leadership is important in order to properly understand it. In an article for Entrepreneur, Michael Brenner defines it as “a type of content marketing where you tap into the talent, experience and passion inside your business, or from your community, to answer the biggest questions on the minds of your target audience on a particular topic.”

Based on that definition, which I happen to like, having something interesting to say is just as important as knowing who you are saying it to. As the media landscape continues to change and social media platforms continue to expand and evolve, so does the concept of thought leadership and how we connect, and gain access to our target audiences. Once dedicated solely to traditional media relations the communication platform has significantly shifted as we become more and more immersed in a digital world.

While traditional media relations still plays a key role in brand awareness and leveraging our clients as experts, thought leadership allows us to engage with target audiences in a much more direct and personal way. But media relations alone is not enough; an integrated communication approach is required in today’s evolving marketplace, which is why thought leadership should be an important part of your communication strategy.

Here are some tips on how you can start developing your thought leadership platform:

  1. Identify your audience – Know to whom you are speaking, what types of information they value, and what they are interested in.
  2. Establish authority – Think about where your expertise lies and tailor your content to that. Identify questions that your customers most often have, and start there.
  3. Be consistent – Once you have established which topic(s) you are an authority on develop a content calendar for posts to keep you on schedule.
  4. Start a blog – Your content needs a place to live. Create a blog on your website that houses all of your content. This also helps in driving traffic back to your site.
  5. Get social – Leverage your social media presence to share your content, but be selective of which platforms you use. Post to platforms where your followers / connections are your target audience.
  6. Speaking opportunities – Look for industry-appropriate speaking opportunities where you can further demonstrate your authority on a specific topic in front of members of your identified target audience.
  7. Seek counsel – Still not sure where or how to get started? Consult with a communication expert who can help provide you with an integrated communication strategy and roadmap.

To be successful in today’s marketplace, brands and organizations must adopt a variety of communication strategies. Thought leadership is an important component for those looking to engage with their target audiences and establish authority in the marketplace. Coupled with both traditional and new-age digital communication methods, you can ensure your success.

Have questions about thought leadership or how to get started? Shoot me a note at tmiller@randjsc.com.


About Tiffany Miller

Tiffany is responsible for leading and managing the agency’s account service teams, and assists in setting the agency’s strategic direction as a member of the Senior Management Committee. Her deep expertise with messaging and campaign execution guides R&J’s clients from planning through results measurement. Tiffany brings strong leadership to her accounts, anticipates client needs, builds positive relationships and generates positive results in all of her activities. She focuses on the bottom line for R&J’s clients utilizing her diverse experience in a variety of industries including healthcare, B2B, non-profits, and real estate to achieve results that move our clients’ products and services forward to increase their market position and brand awareness.

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