In the last few years, two words have become very common in the business world and public relations: thought leader. These days, it seems like everyone is trying to sell themselves as someone whose ideas are authoritative and influential. Without a doubt, being seen as a thought leader can lend credibility to your business and increase your customer base. However, in a world that is full of people with opinions, how can you stand out and be the genuine article?
Let’s face it - everyone has an opinion on something. What is the old saying? “If you talk to five people, you’ll get 10 different opinions on X.” People love to give their ideas on pretty much everything, but that doesn’t make them thought leaders - it just makes them opinionated.
A thought leader, then, is something more: a person who has something valuable and new to say that will interest a significant part of society. More than that, it’s someone who can communicate effectively and who also, paradoxically, knows when to be quiet. More on that in a little while.
There are plenty of reasons why you might want to position yourself as a thought leader, and none of them are necessarily “bad.” As mentioned, you might want the credibility that it brings you and, by extension, your business, which in turn can increase your sales. There might be an issue related to your industry that you care deeply about solving and want to express your ideas. You might simply want to interact with your industry peers on a higher level and enjoy deeper relationships.
Knowing your motivations can help you to know the goals you have for your PR campaign and help you to plan it more realistically.
As a thought leader, you will need to have primary ideas that you want to express to the public. That’s a given. Remember, though, that your issue will evolve. Nothing stays the same. If you have thoughts on how to solve gun violence in schools, the next school shooting can affect them because it is a new situation with potentially different variables. So, it’s important to know your message but to remain open to changing it if new circumstances warrant it.
If you love to speak and know how to modulate your voice, then hosting a podcast may be the right way to go. If you need time to think before you put out your ideas, then writing a blog could be better. Take a little time to think honestly about your strengths so that you can choose the right platform for your opinions.
That said, it’s wise to remain open to the possibility of doing something outside of your comfort zone. If you are nervous about public speaking, you might consider making a one-minute video about an issue. With practice, it gets easier, and you could find yourself enjoying speaking your views this way. The same is true of writing: many people hate it, but a short 500-word article about your thoughts might be effective, too.
To become a thought leader, it’s smart to have a six-month strategy mapped out, if not longer. Focus on one or two ideas at first - more can make you seem random, which will get you nowhere very quickly. It’s far better to delve into just a few instead of hitting everything.
Include in the plan how you will keep up with what’s happening in the industry/news related to your issue. Set aside specific times each day to read websites, blogs, and articles and to listen to podcasts, etc. To be successful as a thought leader, make sure you understand what’s happening and what other thought leaders are saying. Don’t be afraid to challenge their ideas, but make sure you have a leg to stand upon when you do it. And, of course, be respectful when you do respond to them.
Unless you have a ton of time or energy, plan to write your book somewhere down the road. In the beginning, while you are getting your feet wet, focus on consistently putting your ideas out on your blog, on your social media page, or in another format so that you can slowly but steadily establish yourself on the Internet.
Then, once you have gained momentum and are in the habit of posting your ideas, you can go bigger and start that book.
This one is a bit of a fine line. After all, how can you be a thought leader if you aren’t expressing your ideas? You’ll have to feel this one out as you go. It’s kind of like going to a party and listening to that one person blab all evening long. No one likes them, right? However, they do like the person who is an interesting conversationalist and who has the grace to listen to the ideas of those around them.
Perhaps that’s the secret: as you become a thought leader, if you find yourself talking so much that no one else has a chance to express themselves, then you might need to back off a bit.
A thought leader whose ideas are good and who likes to listen to other people? Now that’s someone we would love to hear from.
Imperium Group is an American public relations and marketing consultancy firm. Founded in 2016, it specializes in guaranteed placements, creating utmost transparency for its clients. Imperium Group generates over 15M impressions a month for its clients. Its team is based out of New York, Dallas, and Los Angeles.
For more information about Imperium Group, please see https://navigator.imperiumgrouppr.com/.