What is Thought Leadership?

TLPR Introduction to Thought Leadership

Many people ask, what is thought leadership, and usually get a woolly answer such as it builds trust, authority, and it opens doors to partnerships and opportunity.

All these are true, but the functional definition of thought leadership is that it’s a tool to raise your personal and professional profile – the most organic tool there is. 

Thought leadership can take the form of written articles in the media, talks at well attended events, an inspiring interview on an industry podcast, a social media profile that people take note of, a series of professional videos, a book, a white paper and anything else that showcases expertise and offers insights or solutions to problems.

Thought Leadership Vs Content Marketing

But thought leadership is not the same as content marketing. Anyone can churn out a blog for their website or send a newsletter to their client list. Content marketing is a product, thought leadership is a strategy to create content that truly adds value to the people who consume it. It can offer guidance, provide new insights, instigate fresh thinking. It has the power to influence opinion, inspire leaders to do better, encourage companies to address problems. And, for the thought leaders, it brings a prestigious reputation that will last the test of time.

Thought leaders don’t just write articles. They get their views, expertise and articles into industry or mainstream publications. Thought leaders don’t just put on a free talk to draw in prospects. They get asked to talk at top industry conferences. Thought leaders don’t just launch a podcast or self-publish a book or start a Youtube channel to drive traffic to their website. They attract the attention of the mainstream. They drive opinion, influence the news agenda and are known for their original, brilliant insights.

Picture of business section in a newspaper to showcase media coverage.

The Value of Earned Media

It goes without saying that a third party platform is a better way to showcase your expertise than owned media channels (such as a blog or social media). When your audience see that you’ve been published, it gives a stamp of approval. Prestigious content leads to prestigious leads. And quality platforms come with a google ranking, which puts you on the radar ahead of rivals doing similar things to you.

This doesn’t mean the personal blog is dead. To increase your authority as a thought leader to your maximum potential you should aim to get your thought leadership content on a combination of platforms – getting quoted in the consumer media, writing an op-ed in your industry press, going onto a podcast, as well as your own SEO optimised blog. Getting a mix means building a buzz.

The common theme which defines thought leadership is that it captures the zeitgeist. Your content – whether it’s an article you want to submit to a publication, or a book you want to write – needs to reflect what is being talked about by the masses. Your views need to be fresh and insightful. A talk needs to break new ground. Thought leaders are, as the term suggests, pioneers of new attitudes that can truly influence the public’s way of thinking.

For examples of thought leadership we’ve helped our clients amplify, have a look at our latest six month coverage book, showing highlights of the media coverage we’ve secured – Click here to view.

Or, visit our client success stories page.