By Alannah Green
Media relations is one of the larger pieces of the public relations pie because it gets a brand into communication channels with high-volume audiences, and it is often more powerful for a third-party (journalist) to write about a brand favourably than for a brand to talk about itself in advertising.
A strong media relations program might comprise company announcements and the findings from a brand’s own research. To take it to another level, however, thought leadership is a strong tactic. In the hands of a highly qualified expert and a skilled PR agency, a thought leadership program can have media calling a company for comment several times a week.
If the thought leader can back up their commentary with research and some evidence, they will earn trust and respect from their audience and particular journalists. To ensure the media will continuously use the thought leader for commentary, the PR agency will need to build up an industry expert as a media commentator over time. Journalists trusting their insights puts them on the front foot and ahead of the competition.
A thought leader doesn’t necessarily have to be the company’s CEO, but it is advisable that they are in a leadership position at the organisation. That person will need to be somewhat agile, have passion, and enjoy the limelight – but most importantly, this person needs to have opinions and insights on the industry they operate in.
If you are interested in committing to thought leadership as a PR strategy, work with your PR agency to identify the most effective thought leader and ensure they receive in-depth media training and coaching to prepare them for stardom.
You should not put forward more than one person from your organisation as an industry thought leader in the media. Thought leadership can also be used beyond PR – it is the perfect content to push out on your business’ own B2B blog or through LinkedIn’s Pulse.
A thought leadership program builds up over time and complements PR programs that utilise research. As a leading Sydney PR agency, we roll out thought leadership PR strategies for many of our retainer clients here at The Ideas Suite. One client’s commentary was featured as the cover story of Sydney’s major metropolitan paper The Daily Telegraph, which caused a chain reaction: he was interviewed on 2GB and by Channel 7 News that very same day. This is the kind of magic that a thought leadership strategy can offer you.
If your goal is to become an overnight sensation, it might not be the strategy for you. Your profile as a thought leader takes time to gain momentum but when it does, the PR result is worth its weight in gold.