Five Building Blocks for Thought Leadership

May 16, 2019

Five Building Blocks for Thought Leadership

May 16, 2019

Group Gordon’s Nick Bonavolonta shares tips for building up a brand’s leadership reputation.

Establishing thought leadership can bring serious benefits, including elevating your company’s credibility, demonstrating authority, and increasing visibility among key audiences. Unsurprisingly, leadership-building activities are a priority for many of our clients. However, the journey to thought leadership can be daunting, particularly when competing with loud existing voices. Below are a few tips for laying a foundation from which to build your brand’s thought leadership profile.

  1. Pick the right conversations to lead.

Start by assessing your company’s areas of expertise. However, the first topics that come to mind may not be the most strategic. It may be more worthwhile to focus on an emerging trend in your industry that fewer competing voices are weighing in on. The lane you choose should align with your target audiences’ interests and values.

  1. Select spokespeople with care.

Company leadership and thought leadership are two different things. While it often makes sense to elevate C-Suite executives, seniority should not be the only consideration when selecting spokespeople for the thought leadership effort. For example, it might be worth carving out a lane for a rising star in your company on a unique area of expertise. Develop an organized framework that assigns specific topics to each spokesperson and notes their style and preferences for thought leadership opportunities.

  1. Be ambitious but realistic.

Swing for the fences, but don’t expect a home run in your first at-bat. When starting out, avoid concentrating all of your energy on securing top-tier national broadcast appearances. These can be a tougher sell for a brand or spokesperson with limited recognition. Instead, prioritize consistency to steadily build a bigger profile. For example, placing bylines and guest blog posts in trade media on a regular basis can be valuable for demonstrating expertise to target audiences and for making a case for your credibility when pitching bigger opportunities.

  1. Remember that it’s not all about you.

It can be tempting for spokespeople to use a commentary or byline opportunity to plug their company, but doing so often backfires. While drawing on past experience to illustrate a point is certainly fair game, excessive self-promotion of your company can turn off audiences or make spokespeople seem inauthentic. Let your spokesperson’s impressive insights be a strong enough endorsement of your company without the forced plug.

  1. Keep at it.

Getting off to a hot start is great, but maintaining that momentum is what will cement your spokespeople as industry authorities. Develop a steady pipeline of thought leadership activities to keep your thought leaders in the spotlight. The more you do it, the easier it will become to secure placements and the more influence your brand will command.

Developing a leading voice can be intimidating, especially when competing for share of voice with established figures in your industry. But by developing a smart strategy and staying committed to its execution, your company and spokespeople will soon be steering conversations with authority.