Your company may be an industry leader, but not necessarily a thought leader. According to commentator Elise Bauer, a distinguishing characteristic of a thought leader is “the recognition from the outside world that the company deeply understands its business, the needs of its customers, and the broader marketplace in which it operates.”
Does your company measure up? Here’s a quick test to help you determine whether or not your company is a thought leader:
- Are company executives being tapped for speaking opportunities on a regular basis?
- Do reporters call executives at your company for a comment when they are writing a trend article?
- Are executives at your company asked to contribute bylined articles to industry publications?
If your company has not reached “thought leader” status yet, here are six steps you can take to help achieve that goal:
- Generate white papers. A white paper is an informative piece, designed to educate a reader about a solution to a problem or to introduce new technology, innovations or products. A white paper should include third-party research results, statistics and endorsements, wherever possible, and be limited in the number of company references.
- Develop and circulate case studies. Case studies demonstrate experience and can be a very powerful sales tool. Design your case study format to address the problem, challenges faced and solution your company provided. Include photos, if possible.
- Write bylined articles. Make a list of industry trade publications, and contact the editors to determine guidelines for submitting bylined articles. After an article appears, market it via your Web site, in sales materials, at trade shows, etc.
- Set up a speakers’ bureau. Make a list of local business meetings and national industry events where you want to have a presence. Obtain the “call for speakers” information for each show. Consider co-presenting with a client or another industry leader to increase your odds of being selected.
- Establish relationships with local business media. Regularly send local business reporters newsworthy information about your company. Take key reporters out to lunch once in a while and stay in contact with them. A good way to do this is to send an e-mail or leave a voice mail with a comment about a story they’ve written.
- Submit op-ed pieces and letters to the editor. Read your local paper on a daily basis. Look for opportunities to submit a letter to the editor or an op-ed piece.
Establish a plan, set up a reasonable timeline and stick to it. The payoff will be worth it. Not only will the exposure help your company’s bottom line, but you are likely to see a boost in company morale and an increase in the number of qualified employee candidates in the pipeline.
— Debbie Dryden, VP Thought Leadership