“Thought Leadership”. From Scratch.

I often find working as a PR with tech firms that the company ‘visionary’, usually a founder, CEO or CTO, has lots of very interesting stuff to say.

It goes without saying that they will be well versed on their industry, its trends, and its roadmaps into the future, and these opinions can be PR gold, particularly if they can be contextualised and put in front of the right people. Done properly, this can significantly boost your firm’s credibility, and project you and your organisation as the “go-to” source for information about your industry. The benefits of this are obvious.

I think industry expertise and opinions are best directed at an industry rather than a general audience, so if you can manage it, the obvious place for this type of content is in trade publications. Certainly LinkedIn Pulse, Google +, and the company blog are all good options too, but your industry credibility will multiply if your opinions feature in credible industry publications. Remember that the media remains the highest rated third party purchase decision influencer, so gaining publication in the correct media will significantly increase your profile in a highly sought after space.

Regarding length, there are usually editors guidelines supplied, but 500 – 800 words is usual, along with any pictures or diagrams. Content should be chosen carefully. It goes without saying that it should be relevant – possibly joining in with a current industry topic and giving an ‘angle’ on it. Alternatively, there is the ‘features list’ route. Finally, it can be an ‘opinion piece’ based on some research, white paper or case study.

Another thing to remember is not to be overtly ‘self-promotional’: ie don’t make it into one long ad for your product. Be objective, and don’t promote your product by name. The reason for this is simple: overtly self promotional articles generally won’t be published. No-one is interested in reading an extended ad of your product’s features and benefits, brilliant and all as these may be. Editors know an ‘ad by any other name’ when they see it, and will simply redirect any such a response to the ad sales and advertorial department where it belongs. Clients sometimes comment that an article is too generic, and this is the reason why that is the case. Anyway, to be a true industry commentator, it is necessary to take the wider, rather than the narrower perspective.

Getting published in an industry publication is a big deal, so be ready to support it with LinkedIn, Google+, Facebook, Twitter etc. Make sure everyone that follows your company knows you have been published in your industry bible, and that you are considered an industry source.

Finally, don’t stop there: always be on the look-out for more editorial opportunities to contribute your opinion, and spread it out over time to as many relevant publications as you can, and are interested to carry it - remember that publications that are in touch with their readership will always consider good contributions from the coal face. And when you are published again, remember to support it with tweets, posts on LinkedIn and Google+, etc etc.

I have clients who today are regularly approached by leading publications in their industry to give their opinions by using this simple method. It works!

(Pic: Standing stones at Reenroe Co. Kerry)

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