8 Key Elements of Thought Leadership

Apr 15, 2021 Beth Monaghan

PR only works if you have a point of view. There, we said it. 

Thought leaders need real ideas. Your PR partner is good at coming up with stuff, but if the thought isn’t authentically yours, the leadership won’t be either. Figuring out media targets and strategy comes later.

Key elements of thought leadership: 

# 1: Lead with how you think, not what you do. A good test: Is it possible to have an entire conversation about this topic without mentioning your company's product/service?

#2: Make sure it’s part of the industry conversation. You want to be relevant enough to be part of the news cycle, but differentiated enough to stand out.

#3: Be authentic. Audiences want the truth (and also want something real). Steve Jobs didn’t catapult Apple by dressing like a billionaire and Oprah didn’t become an icon by tweeting articles about herself. Bottom line: be you. Online, in-person and on paper. 

#4: Point to change. A clear vision for how things must change or will evolve over time helps you get heard. When you inspire engagement - and action - you can also build a community.  

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#5: Root your POV in data. Unless you have facts and proof points to support an idea, it’s just another opinion. 

#6: Understand your audience. Empathy will get you everywhere. World events like COVID-19 can shift virtually everything about how your target customer makes decisions. Thought leadership is an opportunity to educate and inform people about new ways to solve existing problems in the world. 

#7: Amplify your ideas. Ideas need a digital home. You don’t need to become a Twitter or LinkedIn warrior, but you do need to participate or post content to get noticed. 

#8: Repeat your message. Are you sick of us saying this yet? A thought leadership program is built over time. Stick to a consistent story and use it to humanize your company. 

// return to AP Style Writing

Topics: Media Relations, Thought Leadership, best practices, Spokespeople
Beth Monaghan

Beth is the CEO of Inkhouse, which she co-founded in 2007 and has grown into one of the top ranked agencies in the country. Beth’s been recognized as one of the Top Women in PR by PR News, the Top 25 Innovators by The Holmes Report and as an Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year finalist. Beth believes that shared values, and the freedom to create are the foundations of all meaningful work. She brings this philosophy to building a culture of creative progress at Inkhouse.

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