Imagine if you could share your industry expertise and subject know-how in an authentic and genuine way that truly creates value, builds knowledge and positions you as an expert in your field. With an effective thought leadership content strategy – you can do just that.
Thought leadership content and PR: more similar than you think
A 2022 survey undertaken by Semrush discovered that more than 64% of businesses currently include thought leadership in their content marketing plans with an additional 29.5% planning to include it in 2023. This implies that there is a real desire from an increasing number of businesses to leverage their position in a particular industry or niche.
And our clients are no exception. Over the past 12 months, almost every brief we have received has specified thought leadership as a goal. Inspirational and knowledge-driven by nature, thought leadership can be amplified in various formats including articles, videos, webinars and whitepapers to name a few. Interestingly however, across our own B2B clientele, thought leadership is most often an element of PR briefs as increasingly, clients seem to believe, or maybe hope, that PR can make them a thought leader.
PR and thought leadership are more closely aligned than you may think:
- They both prove you have a significant level of expertise in something
- They aim to convince your audience that you are a leading expert on a subject
- PR and thought leadership both require dedication, time and patience as well as a high level of knowledge and skill and most critically, a strategy
- And both can be significantly improved by an overt expression of personality, passion and opinion (something B2B brands often find difficult to establish)
Nicole France, a leading content evangelist and former Head of Thought Leadership at global networking leader Cisco, defines thought leadership content as ‘creating a conversation that informs and shapes people’s thinking’ . Similarly, the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) defines PR as ‘the discipline which looks after reputation, with the aim of earning understanding and support and influencing opinion and behaviour’ . So, it’s no surprise that thought leadership and PR go hand in hand.
Doesn’t good PR automatically make you a thought leader?
The simple answer is no.
Having thought leadership as an underlying goal will influence what you actually undertake in a PR campaign – and may change it quite dramatically. If you implement a PR campaign without thought leadership content KPIs or a direct aim (e.g., increasing organic website traffic, growing your social media following, driving MQLs etc.), you won’t be able to make productive headway in this space. This means that it’s really important that from the get-go, your thought leadership and PR goals are aligned to tangible, metric-based objectives.
Of course, it depends on your objectives whether you think PR and thought leadership should both play a role in your marcomms strategy. However, if you don’t embrace and combine the two, it’s likely to take longer to achieve the results that you want and ultimately your efforts will lack that invaluable dimension of implied third-party endorsement. Even in today’s world of fragmented information dissemination, fake news and scepticism, there’s an inherent trust in many trade media outlets. Why risk spending more time hoping your attempt at thought leadership works when you could use PR to back it up, providing a level of established trust to drive your marketing goals forward?
The need-to-knows to make thought leadership and PR work smarter
PR and thought leadership can satisfy certain objectives in their own right and in their own way, but ultimately, they’re better together. It’s a synergistic relationship where thought leadership content can fuel, enhance and differentiate your PR campaign and your PR campaign can inspire and direct your thought leadership strategy and content. To make the combination of the two work seamlessly, you need a deep understanding of your market and the decision makers within it alongside a clear value proposition and precisely defined messaging. You also need to decide who your subject matter experts are (ideally those that are naturally thought leaders in their own right) and as a result, decipher what form your thought leadership content will take, by developing a carefully crafted communications plan, implemented by an expert team.
Do you want to be a thought leader but have some elements missing from your arsenal? Let’s make your existing thought leadership content work harder.