PR-talk: how to become a thought leader

8 tips to develop thought leadership

With thought leadership you can share your expertise in a certain domain with a broad target group and you can be contacted by the media as an expert. But just because you put that label on yourself doesn’t mean you are. Even a stream of social media messages or media appearances does not make you a valuable source of information in your industry. The goal is that you discuss questions and issues that concern your target audience.

1. Stay close to yourself 

Delineate very precisely the topics that you know everything about and list why this matters to others and why it would interest them. You determine stakeholder issues and questions, the target groups and tone of voice in advance. Try to formulate a substantive answer to specific questions and bring a new insight. Because everyone can have an opinion.

2. Determine what you want to achieve with it

This can be brand awareness, more social presence and reach, answering questions from the community, media attention, increasing website traffic, more leads, …

3. The good ones are asked for advice

Intrusively introducing yourself to the media to comment on current events in your sector is not going to work. Make sure your authentic content stands out to the right people or pitch in a targeted manner at a time when the media are looking for an expert.

4. Not too much

Leaving one content post or insight on your followers one after the other will reduce the appeal and engagement over time. E.g. max 1 post per week.

5. Act first, talk later

Before you can become a thought leader, you must already have proven success. For example in business development, only if you have already helped others achieve success in real life, you can do the same via thought leadership.

6. Have regular evidence and case studies

You must have a good reputation so that you inspire confidence. Come up with original research. Prove your expertise through years of experience, strong case studies, positive statements of others about you, a podcast, webinar, research that shows results that match your statements or good connections in your network. Setting up a joint webinar or event with other experts in a different but adjacent field is also a good option.

7. The right channels and places

Being present on the right social media, at debates, seminars, … is obvious, but applying it long-term consistently requires discipline, perseverance and good planning. 

8. Keep your followers up to date on what’s going on in your industry or niche.

You will ultimately be seen as a reliable source by stakeholders. Think carefully in advance about which activities you can sustain in the long term.