Today, brands and individuals have several ways to market or keep their names ringing in their audience’s minds.
But in spite of these methods, thought leadership content stands out as the number one way brands can separate themselves from the crowd and all the noise.
Below, we will look at what thought leadership content is, why your content needs expert leadership insights, and how you can implement it in your marketing strategy.
What is thought leadership content?
There is a common myth around thought-leadership content, that it is only relevant for well-established B2B brands, that all you need is expertise, making small businesses and lesser-known brands to miss out on its benefits.
Well, as a PR & marketing tactic that involves creating and sharing thought-provoking ideas and research that business leaders can use to build credibility for themselves, thought-leadership content can be used by brands of all sizes.
A lot goes into developing thought leadership content as businesses that use this tactic want to be recognized as experts and the go-to place or resource.
So if you are building thought leadership content in your PR strategy, you need to have the power to change public opinion and viewpoints.
Why create thought leadership content?
- Brand exposure – since thought leadership content is about producing high-quality content, it can easily attract media attention, improve brand awareness, and help in lead generation efforts.
- Improve business reputation – by adding your voice and personality in thought leadership content, you can communicate how you want your audience to know your brand. If you produce more academic content, people will think of your brand as knowledgeable in a subject area targeting educators, for example.
- Generate consumer demand and boost sales — Research on the impact of thought leadership content shows that 60% of executives and decision-makers have brought a product after being convinced by thought leadership content. A similar percentage of businesses have closed business deals by sharing thought leadership content. Thus, producing thought-leadership content is a great sales and marketing strategy for businesses that find it hard to convince customers of their products.
So how do you create thought leadership content for your PR?
1. Share what you stand for or what you know
Being a subject matter in an industry you are familiar with is the quickest way to increase credibility. Thus your niche plays a significant role in creating thought leadership content and sharing what you and your business stand for.
To successfully share what you stand for, find what your audience wants to hear and express your idea in a way your audience cares about. Identify the communication channels your audience engages in most and use that to determine the tactics and opportunities in your thought leadership PR strategy.
2. Seek to solve the problems your audience faces
Are there real-world challenges that other brands haven’t solved yet? Why not find them and provide solutions? While doing so, make sure to explain why your school of thought is better and why the current tactics or systems cannot solve the problem.
Attempting to solve your audience’s problems will easily uncover what you desire to achieve or what you want your audience to do. Are you aiming at generating brand awareness or getting more media mentions and wider coverage? Whatever it is, aim to design your content to spur action.
3. Do your research
Even if you are an expert in your field or industry, research is still essential. Research helps you differentiate your content from other experts, especially if you write about something that has previously been discussed.
You can do keyword research on your topic, use industry news, trade publications, or use research reports from universities to advance your story. Engaging in research also helps build your knowledge base and learn what worked for the competitors to improve your results and save you from investing in ideas that are not useful.
4. Back your content with data
To support your finding and solutions, develop a data-driven content strategy that inspires relevance and credibility. Data inspires confidence in your PR team, making it easier to connect with a highly diverse audience and limits assumptions in your content.
Besides, data can be used to deliver new insights, better understand your audience’s pain points, or uncover unknown needs in your industry.
You can also repurpose data for ebooks or infographics. Your audience and other content producers like journalists and bloggers that depend on expert reports will thank you when you incorporate advanced insights to reach a wider audience and build better connections
5. Collaborate on projects with other thought leaders
Don’t work in silos. Similarly, don’t view every other content producer or thought leader as a competitor. Sometimes combining your efforts with another high-profile person in the industry can give your content more leverage. This can be in speaking engagements, podcasts, or publishing an ebook to increase brand awareness and the value of your content.
Partnering with other great minds also helps position yourself to a new audience, find a fresh perspective for your content, and for learning as you branch to other niches.
6. Establish a long-term content strategy
Thought-leadership content should remain relevant and evergreen for years to come. It should also be adapted to changes. So as you come up with a content plan, editorial calendar, assign topics, and hold people accountable – ensure that your idea can stand for the long haul.
The Great Leveler, published in 2017 by the Austrian historian Walter Scheidel on forces that have flattened inequality, is an example of thought leadership content published for the long haul. The writer included lethal pandemics among forces that disrupt equality, which we find very relevant in the current situation we are facing.
7. Add a personal element
To make your content more memorable, add some emotions and storytelling. Showing your human side helps drive the point home, as the reader can remember the writer and its message.
So in every story or speech you share, find some personal aspect. Through incredible storytelling, Athenahealth’s publication Thriving on the Frontlines has separated itself from other healthcare blogs with stories of resilience and resolve from frontline workers and providers fighting against the coronavirus.
But if you don’t have such content, talk about your failures, successes, how you started, or goals.
Examples of thought leadership content
1. Neil Patel
His strong following on Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram speaks volumes. In addition to being New York’s bestselling author, founding and co-founding various online ventures, Neil Patel has positioned himself as an influencer and thought leader in the SEO and marketing world that marketers flock to for actionable marketing advice and to promote and sell different products.
2. First Round Review
First-round reviews provide expert reports from interviews with entrepreneurs and business leaders from around the globe. By providing real-life insights, feedback, and tips on how famous business owners grew their business in a captivating and inspirational way makes them a source of knowledge for aspiring entrepreneurs looking to expand or start their business.
3. J&J Nursing
Writing medical content for the global audience calls for a different game plan considering that countries/regions have various regulations for sharing healthcare content. To navigate these challenges, Johnson & Johnson nursing found success by focusing on the most under-appreciated health practitioners — nurses.
Through their J&J Nursing portal, they removed the boring part of the content that is common with most B2B healthcare providers and focused on personalization and building relationships with their readers and aspiring nurses by creating more engaging and exciting content worth reading. Hence, becoming a go-to source for healthcare content.
4. Oprah Winfrey
While we know her story of rags to riches, most of us also recognize Oprah Winfrey as a media expert. The former talk show host has worked her way up the corporate ladder to turn into a media mogul. Thus, considering the time she has spent cultivating her career, Oprah is viewed as a thought leader in media and business matters.
Over to you
If you want to revolutionize your industry and establish yourself as a resource, implement thought leadership content in your PR and marketing strategy.
While the process may seem too overwhelming at first, as you also need to engage intensely with your audience, publishing insightful perspectives that pique people’s interest will help deliver strong results and let customers know what your brand is all about.
Adela Belin is a content marketer and blogger at Writers Per Hour. She is passionate about sharing stories with the hope to make a difference in people’s lives and contribute to their personal and professional growth. Find her on Twitter and LinkedIn.
Cover photo by Brooke Lark