Posted: Wed 25th Jul 2012
Once you have found your voice, writes John (left), you'll need to find a platform to broadcast from. The internet, in particular, provides numerous opportunities for your ideas to be heard and is an excellent starting point. Thankfully, many internet tools allow even the most technophobic to present their insight in a professional manner. Be warned, though: while you can improve aesthetics using professional skills, this will not improve the quality of your message. Get the message right before you start playing around with bells and whistles.
1. Blogging. Aim to produce short, snappy posts of between 300 and 800 words, which can be easily read on a computer screen. Ideas generated from a quick blog post can then be re-worked into white papers, presentations, videos and podcasts. Very occasionally a simple blog post will grow into a full length book. A good blog is regularly updated with content that is both relevant and interesting to your client base. 2. Guest editorials. Publishing a guest editorial in a respected trade journal or third-party blog can add instant credibility and reach to your ideas. Building relationships with bloggers and journalists should also be seen as first steps in a wider public relations strategy. Target publications and blogs that are of interest to you and your client base and ask: Is this article relevant to the readership? Am I adding value to the conversation? Does this sound like an advertisement? 3. PR. Good PR should be proactive, helping you to create buzz around your industry; and reactive, helping your brand ride on the coattails of a news item or significant event. It's perfectly possible to manage your PR in-house and if you work in a niche industry where knowledge is at a premium, you will probably be more successful this way. If you employ an agency, a small or boutique agency is likely to be able to offer more sympathetic terms than a larger corporation. 4. The elevator pitch. When dealing with journalists (or anyone else you meet in business), it is important that you maintain a consistent brand message describing what it is your company actually does. Its constant repetition will quickly cement your position as a provider of a particular service. To help with this, create an elevator pitch. This is simply a concise message explaining the nature of your business. 5. Become a source. To be truly useful to a journalist, you need to become a trusted source. This, is all about building relationships with key journalists covering your particular industry, as well as the wider media. There are a number of online tools that can help you become a useful source, such as the excellent Response Source. 6. Whitepapers. A whitepaper is a detailed document which is normally distributed online as a PDF. Longer and more detailed than a blog post, a great white paper should act as a guide or solve a particular problem and have the ultimate aim of helping the reader make a decision. While that decision will hopefully result in a sale, you should be careful not to be salesy. Thought leadership is all about positioning yourself as an expert, not a salesperson. 7. Video. If you want to get your point of view out in a quick and efficient manner to as wide an audience as possible, consider video. People tend to buy off people they like and if they have never met you before, video is a great medium for allowing potential customers to look you in the eye, take your advice and decide whether or not they could do business with you. YouTube is the most widely-used video channel, but Vimeo and Vzaar are both very business-friendly. 8. Public speaking/events. Speaking at industry events is the perfect way to cement your reputation as a talented and knowledgeable thought leader. Very few people are natural public speakers, but as with all public performances, practice makes perfect; it might take some time to find your natural flow, but when you find it you'll know you've got it and public speaking will become more enjoyable. 9. Organising your own events. Organising your own events can be a great way to meet your existing and potential clients, provide a platform for expressing your ideas and generate a little PR buzz around your business. Self-run events don't have to break the bank and, depending on your objectives, might even provide a stream of revenue for your business. 10. Combine your channels. Thought leadership channels work best when they are operated as part of a complete multi-channel strategy and so you should try and combine as many as you can. Don't overstretch yourself, but do try and put yourself out there with a fairly robust campaign - and try to get these tried and tested channels working first before looking to expand into new areas.
[product id="" sku="9781908003355"] Photo credit: Andrew Stawarz