Becoming a thought leader can be a difficult and time-consuming process. There is typically a lot of rejection up front with little result for your effort. If that doesn’t detour your interest, then congratulations, you have part of what it takes to be a visionary! While persistence is an important part of the thought leadership recipe, it also takes a powerful message, impeccable timing and media prowess to cement your reputation.
Delivering a powerful message requires sharing a new take, analysis or insight not being reported by anyone else. Be interesting, use clear language and be as specific as possible. Think something is doomed to fail or going to save lives – say it! Parroting back what everyone else has said is a great way to get ignored.
Once you know what to say, it’s important to know when to say it. “Good timing” might include pre-empting events and/or being the first to speak out once a story has broken. This requires a round-the-clock watch on news and competitor activity (your PR team can help with this!). Be prepared to run with your statements right away. If your comment gets held up in an internal review cycle — you’ll likely miss the chance to be included in the day’s most-read stories.
How you deliver the information to press is another key factor. One of our preferred methods is via blog post on your company’s website. Your PR team can easily target key reporters with a simple email note directing them to your comment. Some other effective ways to get your word out is to tweet at target reporters on Twitter or post your thoughts in the comment section of their article (be sure to link back to your blog post).
Raising your profile via contributed articles and speaker sessions is also strongly advised. These are less rushed opportunities that will allow you to reflect on bigger topics, more deeply. Once you see your opinions make it into top stories and you begin to get incoming requests for comment, you’ll know thought leadership is within reach.