April 30, 2015

How to Become a Thought Leader

Who is your person? Your most trusted source of information and support? Who is the person you look to for guidance? For me it’s my husband. He’s smart, he’s usually right, and I trust him. (Not so much when it comes to grumpy teenagers or what shoes go with what outfit, but that’s another story.)

For many organizations, being the go-to source of expertise is the premier communications objective. “Make us the thought leader in our industry/region/community. Put us on the map!” It’s said in almost every PR strategy meeting.

Here is why being that go-to source matters:

It defines an organization. Strategic thought leadership helps focus an organization’s message. People like to know where to look for what information. Steve Jobs defined computers for the more than half of all Americans who use Apple products.

It helps brand an organization. Thought leadership puts an organization on the map. It defines an organization. When I want the “true” story, I turn to the Silver Fox.

It builds trust. Thought leadership builds trust. Trust moves people to act, to buy, to join, to support. I take my child to The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia because of its thought leadership.

Here’s how to become a thought leader:

Focus on key areas of expertise. Your organization may have more than one area of expertise. But offering too many will dilute your brand. Be selective. Look to your mission for guidance. Your thought leadership will be stronger and better able to withstand competition.

Develop a communications strategy. Thought leadership is a very powerful communications tool. A strategic approach will ensure that you meet goals without wasting resources. Develop a strategy, implement tactics that support the strategy, measure the results, adjust. Repeat.

Being a thought leader is a responsibility. Just like being the go-to person for someone’s personal life decisions, it takes thought and commitment. It requires a strategic approach. In return, it gives people a reason to trust. Trust leads to engagements, which in turn leads to action.

Who are your thought leaders? Tweet us @abc_creative to tell us who your organization’s go-to person is and why.