Thought leadership. Can it really be planned and managed or is it more coincidental, accidental, natural?
PR agencies pride themselves in convincing clients that they should spend vast amounts of money on becoming a thought leader, an expert, a trusted advisor. This is seemingly achieved through proactive and reactive means by authoring articles, commenting on other people’s articles, stimulating discussion, giving Q&As, presenting at seminars and conferences and developing relationships with publication and web editors and trade associations.
But isn’t leadership by its nature innate?
The best and most prominent leaders (Jobs, Welch, Clinton, Obama) have charisma and a desire to change things for the better at their core. They naturally assume this position. They are bold, innovative, embracing of change, comfortable in the limelight, comfortable putting themselves up for discussion and debate and can handle constructive criticism.
A PR makeover of a business leader might even be seen as a cynical sales ploy in today’s business climate. You can spot them a mile off when they still talk about how great their business is at X rather than talking about customer needs and issues.
That said some of those techniques – like innovating with authoring white papers, giving seminars and lecturing – are ways to improving your profile. And the Marketing Assassin loves these, because though they are a bit of work, you can implement them yourself FOR FREE.
Have you contacted your local college or university to see if there are course leader, lecturing spots in your subject expert area? What about being on the local board of your professional organisation? Or presenting a seminar to your local Chamber of Commerce group?
Chase those agencies and their lofty, expensive PR strategies away and focus on what you’re good at and how you can help others within your business network. Thats how real thought leaders do it.