Thought leaders hold sway over industry conversations, influence their peers, and help shape trends. They’re respected, knowledgeable, and relied upon to give context and explain the latest developments—whether through their writing and social media or at conferences and panels.
But how does one become a thought leader? Knowledge and experience alone won’t do it, although both are prerequisites.
The key to becoming a thought leader is getting lots of people, especially influential people, to read and take notice of your work. And the best way to accomplish that is through B2B PR. Here’s why.
B2B PR helps develop your reputation
You may be penning brilliant pieces on the state of your industry, what its future holds, and what everyone needs to know this year, but unless you’re also engaged in some kind of PR push to get those pieces seen, you may well end up simply shouting into the void.
The reason is not that your pieces aren’t good enough, or that other people have more informed opinions.
The reason is that there is simply too much content on the internet for people to find you all on their own.
It’s the same reason that organic reach on social platforms is essentially a thing of the past. If you’re not boosting posts, it’s unlikely that they’ll reach a significant number of people.
With B2B PR helping you get placements in popular blogs, in Clubhouse Rooms, on news sites, and in feature articles, your experience and know-how will have the chance to shine. Your voice will be heard by more people, across a broader audience, making it more likely that those people will seek you out on their own down the line.
What’s more, by amassing a collection of clips—appearances in journalistic articles, industry publications, videos, etc.—will give you social proof. This is the idea that people tend to follow the behaviors or actions of others. More specifically, as explained by the psychologist who coined the term, Robert Cialdini, “We view a behavior as more correct in a given situation to the degree that we see others performing it.”
If you’re mentioned in a top-tier article, readers will trust that your words are worth reading. Likewise, if you’re interviewed on an industry blog, readers will assume that you’re someone worth listening to.
A B2B PR pro can guide you toward topics that are topical and attention-grabbing
Part of being a sought-after thought leader is knowing what you have to offer your readers.
Your specific experience, knowledge, and opinions are what they want to hear about because that’s where you can offer the most value.
So while a digital PR pro would never ask you to write or comment about something you don’t feel comfortable or knowledgeable about, he or she will be able to help find topics that are both a great match for your expertise, and timely or in-demand.
In general, effective thought leaders create two branches of content: one evergreen, consisting of general advice that a company or leader in your industry could benefit from at any time, and another topical or news-based.
The first type is generally the one that comes most easily for thought leaders. After all, to create a good evergreen piece, you can take a wide range of approaches. You can start with a personal story, something that was formative for your growth in your career or as a leader; you can talk about a particular challenge you faced, and how you overcame it; you can discuss a trend or flashpoint in your industry that was controversial, and is now simply standard; etc.
As long as you’re weaving in value for the reader, showing how he or she can take your experience and apply the learnings from it to their own careers or lives, you’ll have a solid evergreen piece.
The more difficult pieces to create are the ones that are tied to a news cycle, and this is where a B2B PR pro can really come in handy.
For one thing, as an executive of your company, your priority is running your company—not noticing every news story that might be relevant to your brand.
But that’s part of the job for B2B PR professionals. They not only maintain rosters of contacts in the news industry who reach out to them when they need a quote or opinion for a specific story, but they also keep track of what’s trending and what people are talking about. That way, when something relevant is hot in the news cycle, they help ensure you’re able to jump on it.
Related reading: The Best Ways to Use B2B PR to Support Your Branding
Another challenge of creating newsy, timely content is, of course, that it has to be timely. Often, this kind of content must be created and turned around quickly. Many thought leaders simply aren’t able to drop everything and pen a column around a sudden development.
In these cases, PR pros can be invaluable. They can identify outlets and reporters who need a quote or short statement, which allows you to still have a voice in the current conversation without having to spend the time and resources to pitch reporters, craft a longer piece, or put up a statement on social media and hope someone picks it up.
B2B PR can help you enhance your brand’s thought leadership as well as your own
Aside from the actual content, building a strong thought leadership presence requires resources for managing the logistic end of things—like timing, posting, and sticking to a schedule.
Many leaders have times in their year when business picks up, and crafting their weekly or monthly thought leadership piece gets pushed to the back burner.
This is why it helps to have multiple people who contribute to your brand’s overall B2B thought leadership. B2B thought leaders don’t all have to be C-level executives. Department heads or other managers can also be thought leaders within their own niches, adding both depth and breadth to your brand’s thought leadership contributions.
In addition, a B2B PR strategy that incorporates multiple voices gives you more options in terms of outlets and is more likely to appeal to a wider audience. It also allows you to pursue multiple angles at once and can reduce the burden of effort that one person has to carry.
A B2B PR agency can help you manage this kind of multi-pronged strategy, giving you the time you need to run your company and keep creating high-value content.
Ready to talk thought leadership and B2B PR? Contact us today!