What comes to mind when you think about the thought leaders you admire the most? Is it book tours, massive stages, TED Talks, keynote appearances, or even YouTube accounts and Instagram profiles? There is no shortage of distinct insights and perspectives in the modern digital world; yet, even if someone expresses their beliefs online eloquently only sometimes qualify them as a thought leader. The distinct qualities of a thought leader make them stand out from others.

So, Who Is a Thought Leader?

Highly respected, a thought leader is an individual with expertise and innovative ideas in a particular field, the one everyone looks to for guidance and inspiration. Known for their ability to think creatively and develop fresh perspectives and solutions to problems, they may be researchers, educators, executives, or other professionals who can effectively communicate their ideas, inspire others to think differently, and consider new possibilities.

What Does a Thought Leader Do?

So, what does a thought leader do? Well, thought leaders are pioneers and innovators at the forefront of new developments and trends, known for their knowledge and expertise in areas of focus. They consistently seek further information to expand their understanding. Besides sharing ideas and insights through various mediums, thought leaders may also hold other responsibilities, such as teaching, researching, or leading an organization.

Characteristics of a Thought Leader

When an individual backs up their words with their actions, and others believe what they say, that person gains credibility, respect, and a thought leadership position. Here are some key characteristics of a thought leader and what sets these individuals apart as true thought leaders in their field:

(1) Deep Knowledge and Expertise 

One of the critical characteristics of a thought leader is their deep knowledge and expertise in their area of focus-thoroughly understanding the subject and staying current with the latest research and developments in the field. Thought leaders constantly learn and seek new information to expand their knowledge and stay ahead of the curve.

(2) Ability to Communicate Ideas Effectively

Another characteristic of a thought leader is their ability to communicate their ideas effectively. Including being able to articulate complex concepts clearly and concisely, having strong writing skills, and the ability to engage an audience. Generally, thought leaders use a variety of mediums, such as writing articles, giving talks, or using social media, to share ideas and insights.

(3) Creative and Innovative Thinking

In addition to their knowledge and communication skills, thought leaders are also known for their creativity and innovative thinking. Nearly all thought leaders think outside the box and come up with fresh perspectives and solutions to problems. They are fearless in challenging the status quo and propose new ideas, even controversial or unconventional ones.

(4) Vision and Strategic Thinking

Thought leaders have a crystal clear picture of the future and can think strategically about how to accomplish the objectives that they have set for themselves. They take in the whole situation and consider how their choices will affect the greater picture in the long run while outlining a path to achievement and motivating others to follow it to achieve ultimate success.

(5) Strong Leadership Skills

As the name suggests, thought leaders inspire and encourage individuals to succeed. They can establish a productive and cooperative working atmosphere that encourages creative and innovative thinking. They can successfully delegate responsibilities to others, which allows them to develop trust and credibility within the team and the stakeholders.

(6) Ability to Build Relationships

Those considered thought leaders can cultivate robust ties and extensive networks within their respective fields. They can form connections with other individuals and work together on various projects and activities. They can leverage their networks to get information and insights and keep up with the most recent advances in their industry, allowing them to remain updated.

(7) Dedication and Passion

Thought leaders are fully devoted to their area and highly enthusiastic about their job. They are motivated by a strong sense of purpose and the desire to have a good influence on the world. They are also committed to putting in the long hours and showing the devotion necessary to accomplish their objectives and positively impact their respective field.

(8) Ethical and Values-Driven

Strong ethical principles and a dedication to always acting in the most morally commendable manner are other characteristics common among thought leaders. Dedicated to fostering a bright and sustaintainable future, they make their choices in a way open to scrutiny and actively seek improvements. Also, they balance the company’s requirements and duties toward society and the environment.

(9) Adaptability and Resilience

Thought leaders are resilient in the face of adversity and can adjust their approach to new situations effectively. They can draw valuable lessons from their mistakes and turn them into chances for personal development and advancement for themselves and others. Thought leaders concentrate on their objectives and keep moving ahead despite fundamental challenges.

(10) Authenticity and Humility

Thought leaders always maintain a high level of authenticity and sincerity in their interactions with others while earning respect and credibility from those around them. They are confident in who they are and don’t have any issues with being themselves in public. Finally, they are modest leaders who acknowledge the contributions of others and make an effort to learn from whoever comes across them.

A Note on CEO Thought Leadership

CEO thought leadership is a specific form of thought leadership that occurs at the highest levels of an organization. As far as the definition is concerned, a CEO thought leader is an executive who not only has a deep understanding of their particular industry and company but also can inspire and motivate others to achieve success. These individuals can effectively communicate their vision and strategy to the team and stakeholders and build buy-in and support for their ideas.

In addition to their role within their organization, CEO thought leaders also often have a broader impact on their industry and society. They may be called upon to speak at conferences or be featured in media outlets, and their ideas and insights are often highly sought after.

CEO thought leadership requires a combination of knowledge, communication skills, strategic thinking, and leadership abilities to create a positive, collaborative work environment that fosters innovation and progress. Simply put, CEO thought leaders significantly impact their organization and industry and are an invaluable asset to any company—and we couldn’t agree more.

How to Become a Thought Leader?

Here are a few steps you can take to become a thought leader in your respective field:

  • Identify your area of expertise: To become a thought leader, you must deeply understand a particular subject. Identify the areas in which you have the most knowledge and expertise.
  • Build your credibility: To be seen as a thought leader, you must establish yourself as a credible source of information. This can be done through speaking engagements, writing articles or books, and sharing your expertise through social media or other online platforms.
  • Engage with your audience: Thought leaders are experts and thought starters. Thus, to become one, you must engage with your audience by asking and answering questions, starting conversations, and seeking opportunities to share your expertise with others.
  • Network and collaborate with other thought leaders: Thought leaders are often part of a larger community of experts. Build relationships with other thought leaders in your field and collaborate with them on projects or initiatives. You can also connect with them on LinkedIn.
  • Stay current: Thought leaders constantly learn about the latest developments in their field. Continually educate yourself and stay current on the latest trends and research.

By following these steps, you can establish yourself as a respected expert and have the opportunity to shape public opinion, influence decision-making, and positively impact your field.

Famous Thought Leaders to Follow

Each of these thought leaders is an expert in their fields, but they have also used the PR tools at their disposal to become industry or household names.

  • Malcolm Gladwell: Malcolm Timothy Gladwell is a best-selling author and Canadian journalist who writes about the social sciences, psychology, and human behavior.
  • Simon Sinek: Simon Oliver Sinek is a British-born American motivational speaker and author known for his work on leadership and organizational behavior and multiple best-sellers.
  • Brené Brown: Casandra Brené Brown is a researcher, professor, lecturer, author, speaker, and Podcast host, who focuses on topics such as vulnerability, shame, and empathy.
  • Tim Ferriss: Timothy Ferriss is an American investor, entrepreneur, podcaster, lifestyle guru, and author who writes about productivity, time management, and self-improvement.
  • Seth Godin: Seth W. Godin is an American entrepreneur, former dot com business executive, speaker, and author who writes about marketing, branding, and business strategy.
  • Maria Popova: Popova is a Bulgarian-born, American-based essayist, writer, and editor who curates and comments on interesting articles, books, and other media on her blog.
  • Daniel Kahneman: Kahneman is an Israeli-American notable Nobel laureate and psychologist known for his work on decision-making, behavioral economics, and cognitive psychology.
  • Jim Collins: James C. “Jim” Collins is an American researcher, speaker, author, and business consultant known for his corporate strategy and leadership work in the corporate sector.

The Future of Thought Leadership

It is difficult to predict the future of thought leadership, as various factors, including technological advances, societal changes, and shifts in industries and markets, influence it. However, the role of thought leadership will likely continue to evolve and expand in the coming years. One potential trend is increased technology and social media use in thought leadership.

As more people turn to the internet for information and connection, thought leaders may find new ways to use online platforms to share ideas and engage with their audience. This may include using social media websites like YouTube or Facebook, blogging platforms, or creating online courses, Podcasts, or webinars. Another trend may be the rise of diverse and inclusive thought leadership.

As society becomes more diverse and globalized, there will likely be greater demand for thought leaders from various backgrounds and experiences, including thought leaders from underrepresented groups. Overall, the future of thought leadership will continue to be shaped by society’s changing needs, and thought leadership will play a crucial role in addressing these challenges and finding innovative solutions. It will continue to be a driving force for progress and change.

Final Thoughts

As you probably know by now, a well-rounded individual who is not bothered by being the focus of attention among the public is a thought leader. Believe it or not, it’s not a role for everyone, so before you pursue thought leadership status, be sure you’ve found the appropriate individual with all the characteristics of a thought leader to set your business on the right track toward success.

Finally, this brings us to the end of this blog; now it’s time to hear from you. Any questions or comments? Or maybe there’s something we missed? Either way, feel free to leave a comment below.

Are you wondering, “what is thought leadership?” Read on to find everything you need to know about the concept and its best practices!
Thought leadership is one of the words that rile up the buzzword police more than almost any other term. Joel Kurtzman, the founding editor-in-chief of “Strategy & Business” magazine, was the first to use the term in 1994 to refer to an individual who has an in-depth knowledge of a company marketplace, a comprehension of the customer’s requirements, as well as innovative and distinctive ideas and points of view. However, what does “thought leadership” mean in the 21st century?

What Is Thought Leadership?

Thought leadership is the dissemination of original and authentic information that draws on the author’s knowledge, perspective, and experience to impart some of that wisdom to other individuals. The three essential components of thought leadership are taking a position, adding to your knowledge, and creating value.

Some individuals believe that thought leadership should be presented in written material. This may require taking a public stance on the business’s contentious problem. Others argue that thought leadership is holding the position of a subject matter expert and using that status to influence a particular field or endeavor.

Thought leadership is a combination of the two. It’s disseminating information that is thought-provoking and based on research to propel change and provide educational value. However, it is not a destination in and of itself. The only way for thought leaders to create a meaningful business impact, which many economic indicators can show, is via the consistent and long-term execution of their ideas.

Who Are Thought Leaders?

Individuals considered knowledgeable opinion leaders and the go-to sources in their respective fields (in an industry, niche, or across an entire ecosystem) are known as thought leaders. They are the reliable sources that motivate others and inspire them with new ideas; convert those ideas into reality; and know how to reproduce the success and teach others how to do so.

Amanda Nguyen of Rise, Sara Blakely of Spanx, and Ron Finley, the co-founder of Green Grounds, who dresses up himself as the “Guerrilla Gardener” to encourage people in Los Angeles to cultivate gardens in deprived neighborhoods, are examples of thought leaders we admire. What makes them all unique? They are changing the world while encouraging others to join in.

Although thought leaders come in many shapes and sizes, they can come from any background or community. Yet, thought leadership is something that only some can achieve. Experts in their respective fields are often considered the most influential thought leaders. These specialists may be CEOs, writers, consultants, coaches, or enterprises (B2C and B2B).

Thought Leadership Best Practices for 2023 and Beyond

Whether you’re new to thought leadership or an experienced practitioner, this section has everything you need to know. So, continue reading to discover a step-by-step guide on designing, creating, and carrying out a thought leadership strategy like executive visibility with integrated communications, followed by best practices for 2023 and beyond.

Step 1: Outline Your Unique Goals
The first thing you need to do is figure out what you want to accomplish by putting yourself in a thought leadership position. To do this, review your current marketing objectives and think about how thought leadership may assist you in achieving each one, assuming it can do so. Suppose increasing business awareness is one of your PR objectives. In that case, writing a post on accessibility challenges that customers in your sector face may help you grab individuals’ attention.

Step 2: Assess Present Thought Leadership
Now is the time to study and investigate the different thought leadership currently present in your industry through online forums, commercial periodicals, academic journals, company blogs, and more. This entails researching yourself as well as your competitors. By acquiring a deeper understanding of the latest concepts and trends in thought leadership (from both your side and your competitor’s side), you’ll better comprehend the primary problems plaguing your sector.

Step 3: Identify Your Thought Leaders
Building a roster of thought leaders is the most brilliant move if you’re planning on discussing a wide range of subjects through your brand. Consider the essential specialists employed by or affiliated with the company firm. According to the feedback received from professionals in the relevant field from one of the studies, thought leader role models often have the following five characteristics:

  • Alignment with your company/brand and its ultimate mission and values
  • A thirst for conveying strong opinions, innovative ideas, and concepts
  • Both knowledgeable and passionate about the relevant industry/sector
  • Experienced in sharing real-life experiences publically with the audience
  • A loyal following (not only on social media but among the team members)

Now that you know how to identify thought leaders, the next step is to determine where they fall on an organizational level. For example, what does your company specialize in doing the best? Where do you put most of your focus? Think about the more prominent brand narrative and ideals you uphold. This way, it will be much easier to shortlist the most authentic thought leaders.

Step 4: Generate Your Distinct Thought-Leadership Content

When it comes to the process of content creation, writing articles as part of your thought leadership strategy is a smart place to begin since it demonstrates your expertise in your field. Once you believe you have a sound system for creating articles, try different mediums such as videos, podcasts, webinars, and eBooks. Before designing the material, you must first decide what themes you want to address. To do so, start with the following crucial steps:

  • Research topics by observing the latest trends in your niche and learning from others.
  • Map out the content production process by assigning duties to particular employees.
  • Finally, stay fluid in terms of publishing calendars to adjust to emerging new trends.

 

Be aware that as you publish material demonstrating thought leadership, you’ll also collect additional data on the returns of this content. By disclosing this information to your team leaders, you can inform them of how successful the plan is and the forms that will best connect with your audience.

Step 5: Dispense and Market Your Content

You may write the most engaging, helpful, and thought-provoking content possible, but if no one can discover it online, it won’t accomplish much. Thus, the essential part of any thought leadership campaign is the development of strategies for distributing and promoting the material. Read on to discover some effective marketing strategies to promote your thought-leadership content.

  • Start by promoting the content on external and internal company channels.
  • Pitch your content to publications, journalists, and other industry influencers.
  • Collaborate with non-competing brands via joint thought leadership content.
  • Reach out for contributions from relevant influencers and opinion leaders.
  • Analyze content creators in your industry to get new, unique insights.
  • Consider adding sponsored content by increasing your marketing budget.
  • Creating a dialogue is an essential component of thought leadership. Therefore, ensure that you follow through and directly connect with the communities, leaders, and influencers. If you run a more prominent company, hire reputation management experts to take care of this. However, if your company is smaller, your thought leader may need to take on a more active role.

Step 6: Measure the Outcome

It is crucial to monitor the success of your thought leadership marketing, just as it is necessary to measure the performance of any other strategy, to determine whether you are achieving your objectives. You may use several content metrics to measure performance and sales results. The following are the primary outcomes that may be generated through thought leadership content:

  • Backlinks
  • Organic Traffic
  • Media Mentions
  • Email Subscribers
  • Total Leads/Sales
  • Social Engagement

Consider experimenting with different ways of measuring progress. For example, you can regularly host thought leadership webinars and provide rating-based questionnaires to all registrants after each session. In addition, you may monitor to determine whether your webinar has attracted the target audience. It may be hard to believe, but this indicator is far more important than the registered individuals.

Best Practices to Follow in 2023 and Beyond

The ultimate goal of a thought leader is to make sure that their specialized skills and knowledge are shared with others to contribute to the expansion and success of the business. The essence of thought leadership is assisting other individuals in gaining a deeper awareness of themselves, identifying their unique contributions to the world, and positioning themselves for sustained success. So, how do we pave the path for thought leadership that works wonders?

Recognize the Area of Expertise
First things first, a thought leader must have a solid understanding of the topic, ensuring that they communicate their expertise straightforwardly and consistently. This contributes to the credibility that is established in the sector. In addition, thought leaders must be responsible for remaining focused on their areas of expertise while simultaneously disseminating information.
Be an Industry Expert
As soon as the thought leaders have determined their area of expertise in the field, it is time for them to become an authority in that particular area. To begin, aspiring thought leaders must ensure that they are continually present on what is occurring in the industry, what is new, what is effective, and what is not. The idea is to educate oneself first before attempting to teach other individuals.
Identify the Approach
This is an essential practice to follow. First, make an effort to comprehend the intended audience, then determine what they expect, and last, investigate potential solutions to guarantee that the appropriate data is sent. If the leaders do not have a clear aim and objective in mind, they simply won’t be adding to the noise, as the audience wouldn’t be able to take any value from it.
Use the Latest Technology
It is essential to carefully plan out content from the beginning to be an influential thought leader, and this goal may accomplish by using the latest technology. It gives groups and leaders the ability to devise improved tactics, which in turn makes thought leadership more effective. Not only that, but leaders may also use a content management system to store vital data and then distribute it.

Never Stop Learning
We’re all human, and we’re always learning. Therefore, those in thought leadership positions must realize that they should constantly be eager to learn new ideas and be open to criticism. In point of fact, gaining information and understanding through the real-life experiences and perspectives of others is the most effective method to do either. However, always remember; you do you.

Final Thoughts

Creating space for an effective thought leadership approach may result in several positive outcomes. Although it might be difficult and time-consuming, the rewards that will accrue to all those who want to or now hold the position of thought leader make it worthwhile.
At the end of the day, we can only hope that individuals around the world will be able to have a deeper understanding of thought leadership. They must make more informed choices by adhering to these best practices for 2023 and beyond.

Therefore, CEOs need to understand who their ideal customers are, and then they can choose the channel that would bring them the most success. CEO Thought Leadership is important for most of the decision-making process.
Finally, this brings us to the end of this blog; now it’s time to hear from you. Any questions or comments? Or maybe there’s something we missed? Either way, feel free to connect with us regarding our Thought Leadership Program, especially for busy executives.

If you’re a DTC company or work in a highly visable emerging industry, you’ve no doubt seen headlines about cyber breaches like malware and hacks that demand millions of bitcoin. In fact, 46% of all cyber breaches impact businesses with fewer than 1,000 employees (source). As the world becomes more digitized and cybercrime increases, the need for cyber insurance is something businesses should not overlook. If your company sells online, handles, transmits, or stores sensitive data, you need to know about these 3 types of cyber insurance.

Cyber insurance protects businesses from the monetary and reputational losses arising from a cyber incident that could jeopardize their future. It covers financial losses caused by events such as data breaches, cyber theft, ransomware, rogue employees, and simple mistakes and it covers crisis PR, up to a point.

Since most businesses often lack the resources or budgets of big corporations, cyber insurance can provide critical financial protection in the event of a cyberattack, helping them recover quickly.

Although insurers may have their own specific classifications, cyber insurance can be divided into three broad categories:

Cybertheft insurance

With more and more businesses storing sensitive data online, the risk of cyber theft is more prominent than ever. As a result, adequate insurance against this growing threat is critical. Cybertheft insurance protects businesses from financial losses caused by digital theft. This type of insurance can cover a variety of cybertheft scenarios, including first-party cybertheft, embezzlement scams, payroll redirection, and gift card scams.

Businesses of all sizes can be victims of cybertheft, and no business is too small to need cyber theft insurance.  Cyber incidents are so common, it’s not a matter of if, but when, your company will experience an incident. What will you do if your data or digital assets will be stolen? That’s why cyber theft insurance is so important for your business.

Cyber liability insurance

Cyber liability insurance includes third-party coverage for damages and losses, data breaches, regulatory penalties, credit monitoring, and lawsuits. This is an important type of insurance if you’re a DTC or e-commerce brand.

Cyber liability insurance is a vital tool for small businesses like yours because the financial ramifications of a cybersecurity breach can be more severe than you can handle. This does not mean you should panic right now; it simply means that having cyber liability insurance can help your business recover and move forward, even after a breach, without being stunted.

Planning is critical for reducing your data and brand liability with a security breach.

Cyber extortion insurance/ransomware insurance

Cyber extortion insurance protects businesses against ransomware attacks. Cyber extortion attacks often come with a clicking clock, so it’s important to have a plan. This type of insurance can help cover the cost of ransom payments, recovery expenses, business interruptions, and more. It can also provide access to a team of experts who can help with cyber extortion negotiations and forensics.

Keep in mind that an attack could still succeed even with the right cybersecurity solutions in place to protect your business. That’s why it’s critical to have cyber extortion insurance. It can help you recover from a ransomware attack and reduce the financial impact.

While you’re looking, keep these types of cyber insurance in mind. Cyber insurance is a complicated and ever-changing industry. Many factors can influence whether you qualify for a payout in the event of a cyberattack, and trying to remain compliant with your insurance policy can be difficult. Working with an IT service provider can help you better understand your options and ensure that you have adequate security in place, increasing your chances of receiving complete coverage.

Cyber insurance provides critical peace of mind, but you will still need to be prepared in case of an incident in order to have a successful claim. That’s why we’ve teamed up with Ignite Solutions to provide you with a risk analysis and cyber attack plan that ensures you get through the first 48 hours. Our cyber incident planning service protects your data AND your brand. 

 

Why Purpose-Driven Public Relations Have an Edge 

It’s easy to see why some companies are skeptical of shifting to a “purpose-driven” business model. Doing so requires companies to take a position on important, potentially controversial issues like environmental protection, workers’ rights, racial and gender discrimination, income inequality, and so on.

Is Taking a Stand the New Social Media in Public Relations?

Taking a stand can generate a swift backlash from the community and consumers. For an example, look no further than the reaction from many fans of the National Football League when several players, most notably San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, knelt during the national anthem as a protest against police violence.

The NFL is one of the few monolithic institutions left in American life, and the response from its fans would seem to discourage other brands from getting involved in political and social issues. Even President Donald Trump got involved by putting pressure on team owners and league officials. And yet, the NFL’s handling of its players’ police violence protests offers an instructive example of why brands should lean into social causes instead of avoiding them.

After all, what was the ultimate outcome for Kaepernick? The NFL caved on player protests and is allowing social justice messages in the end zones this year. Kaepernick partnered with Nike on their “Dream Crazy” ad, which helped spread his message to a much wider audience. Though the ad was criticized in some quarters, most people responded positively to it. Younger audiences, one of Nike’s key demographics, responded especially well.

Making that ad was a risk for Nike, but it’s a risk that clearly paid off. By being aware of social trends — particularly among some of its core customers — and partnering with someone who had legitimate social justice credentials, Nike scored a public relations coup and rode the wave to increased sales.

Jumping into the realm of social activism is new for Nike, but other brands have engaged in social, political, and environmental causes for many years now. The clothing company Patagonia, for instance, supports many social causes, especially groups focused on the protection and preservation of public lands in the United States. They’ve also imposed a “1% for the Planet” tax on themselves, in which they spend 1 percent of their sales (not just their profits) on environmental activism while encouraging other companies to do the same.

Another brand that’s making headway in terms of changing the way business is done is King Arthur Baking Company. Unlike many larger bakeries, King Arthur is a private company that is owned by its employees and is a benefit corporation. This means that having a positive impact on the world is built into the company’s corporate structure. In an article for the New York Times, Ralph Carlton, one of King Arthur’s chief executives, said “Being accountable to our employee-owners means we have to take them into account. We don’t believe in growth for growth’s sake.” The company’s message is clearly resonating with consumers; according to the Times article, King Arthur’s sales tripled this past spring when many people went into quarantine and started baking their own bread and other goods.

Is a Purpose Driven Public Relations Strategy for Everyone?

These examples and additional research illustrate the gains to be had for brands that embrace social causes. For instance, the research firm Accenture found in 2018 that 63 percent of consumers prefer to support brands that share their values and beliefs. In that same study, Accenture also found that 62 percent of consumers want brands to take a position on social and political causes, and 65 of consumers said their buying decisions are influenced by the values, actions, and words of a company’s leaders.

As we saw with Nike, these trends are even more pronounced among younger audiences and consumers. Other researchers have found that 54 percent of teens age 16-19 boycotted or bought from a brand because of its ethics. Furthermore, 63 percent of teens say they are more likely to buy from brands that back charities or other causes they believe in.

These figures provide more evidence that consumers are eager to buy from brands they perceive as having strong morals and values. However, brand trust is a precious commodity that companies should not take for granted. About 37 percent of teens surveyed in the study mentioned above said they didn’t trust the claims brands make about the causes they support, and 69 percent of teens in the survey said brands overstate how much they support the causes they supposedly champion.

That last point is critical. It’s not enough for companies to say they want to make the world a better place, they have to back it up with their actions and policies. If you tell consumers you’re moving to a purpose-driven business philosophy, you need to give them proof.

Once again, we can look at Nike for an example of this theory in action. Regardless of other criticisms the company has faced in the past, making Kaepernick the centerpiece of a campaign took courage, as he was a pariah in many circles and hadn’t been a star player for several years. But because Kaepernick had sacrificed his career and his reputation for his beliefs, Nike benefitted from his social justice bona rides.

As more consumers push for brands to become more socially and politically engaged, companies that have already adopted a purpose-driven approach or are willing to make a good-faith effort have a tremendous advantage in the marketplace. If you can show consumers that your brand shares their values, they’ll flock to your business.

How to Celebrate a Purpose-Driven Public Relations

 

Of course, getting your message in front of consumers is easier said than done. You need a public relations firm that understands the challenges purpose-driven brands face and the benefits they can provide consumers. Fortunately, PR for purpose-driven brands is what we do at Avaans Media, and we can help show the world what makes your company special.

It’s important not to be too bold or too generic when it comes to PR for purpose-driven brands. You need to be specific about what you’re doing and how it’s generating the kind of positive change you’re striving for. We’ll create a campaign that’s tailored to your company’s specific strengths and goals, and we’ll show consumers that you’re serious about achieving those goals.

This kind of campaign is something we already have experience doing. One of our biggest successes came from helping a nonprofit create content to help parents who were non-native English speakers improve their children’s early education outcomes. We listened to what they wanted to achieve and created streamlined, easy-to-understand social media content for parents to share with each other and their children. Furthermore, we helped the nonprofit lobby the state legislature to fund early education programs for pre-kindergarten students.

Our campaign was a tremendous success, generating over 401,000 impressions over six months among our target audience, with an engagement rate of over 50 percent. The state legislature also saw the extensive community support for the program and funded more early education programs, providing an even greater benefit to the community.

Our organization has the tools and talent to bring this kind of success to your purpose-driven brand. To learn more, visit our contact page to schedule a call with one of our offices. You can also find us locally in New York, Los Angeles, Honolulu, Phoenix, Denver, and San Diego.

It doesn’t matter whether your interview is with the Wall Street Journal or a tiny vertical publication with a niche audience. You, the company representative, the thought leader, really do set the tone for the the interview. You control first impressions; you influence the tone and nature of the interview, and you set the stage for a fantastic interview or a deadly one. PR is like building a suit. There are 500 ways to screw it up. This post is part of a series on how to screw up PR. There are literally thousands of thing not to do in a media interview. So, let’s discuss 4 ways to screw up a media interview.

1. Be Unresponsive to the Interviewer’s Time

Journalists are under more pressure than ever today. The average journalist covers 4 beats, up 25% from last year, and 21% say layoffs or furloughs contribute to an increasing workload. More journalists are freelance, meaning they work for many publications and don’t get receive benefits, like paid time off, or even health insurance. From scheduling your time with a journalist to sending follow-up information like headshots, or company stats, journalists need you to do what you say you’ll do, and they need you to do it fast.

Many people think because so much content is digital, there are no deadlines. We indeed deal with PRINT deadlines less, but more than ever, there are deadlines. The pace of content creation that publishers and editors must keep up with necessitates deadlines.

So when you’re working with a journalist, it’s just good practice to be ultra helpful and responsive. Doing so might be the difference of getting in the story or not.

2. Treat the Press Like the Enemy

The press needs an angle, a story, something that people want to read. That’s what they really need. That every person in the press is out to get you, personally, is overblown. There are very specific circumstances where an investigative journalist has a job to do. If you’re in that situation, then you need crisis comm, not interviews. It’s unlikely that a journalist is approaching their conversation as a “gotcha.”

Now, that doesn’t mean you can drop your guard, it means you come to the table playing offense, not defense. Respect the interviewer’s time, give them a reason to be glad they showed up. Treat a media interview with the same level of professionalism you would treat an important meeting with an investor or a dream client, and you will probably be just fine.

A journalist is another human with a job to do. That’s all. Treat your interviewer like a human, and you will probably get the same professional courtesies back. Or you could screw up your media interview by treating them like the enemy and receive the same professional courtesies back.

3. Act Like the Journalist is Working for You

Let’s be clear: Aside from an accurate representation of your quotes and conversation, a journalist owes you nothing. They don’t owe you approval of the article; they don’t owe you a link to your website. They don’t owe you any. thing. They do not even owe you a retraction of an embarrassing statement. If you actually said it, you own it, don’t ask for a retraction or edit unless the quote is just wrong. This is not a paid placement, it’s not an ad. You do not have editorial control.

For example, during an occasion where we secured a magazine cover for the most prestigious cannabis industry magazine. The CEO went on a full-throated campaign to art direct the cover and the entire photo shoot, a photo shoot the magazine was paying for. He insisted on making the photographer come to his difficult-to-get-to home, for an outside location shoot even though outside shoots are harder on the photographer, and despite being told that studio shoots present better on magazine covers. The photo journalist was lovely and gracious and in touch with our team, but there was little we could do from a distance since the CEO declined to have a representative at the shoot.

When the publication came out, the cover disappointed the CEO. And I had to agree with him. It wasn’t the most flattering photo I’d ever seen. I’m sure there were better photos, but in a situation like this, the editor has full editorial control and I’m also sure the photojournalist had had enough with the prima donna he was throughout the entire process. So while the photojournalist was incredibly professional to our team and on-site, she felt completely disrespected and her work reflected her feelings.

When you’re working with photojournalists and journalists, be gracious. Take your cues from them. Make their jobs easier, not harder.

4. Be Unprepared

Remember the recommendation to treat your interview like you would a meeting with an investor? Would you go to an investor meeting unprepared? Of course not, so don’t screw up a media interview because you didn’t prepare.

Do your homework, because the journalist has. According to MuckRack’s State of Journalism, 77% of journalists say Twitter is their most valuable social platform, and LinkedIn is a distant second. Jump on Twitter and see what they’re talking about, and while you’re at it, take a sharp eye to your own Twitter and LinkedIn to make sure it’s your best self.

Read a few recent articles by the journalist and get a sense of their style and beats. As a bonus, you’ll also get a look at some of the other publications they write for and you may create interest in another angle for another publication.

What are your must airs? Decide ahead of time how you will answer the likely questions, and what’s most important for you to say what are your “must airs”? Also, decide in advance how you will handle the tough questions. Be purposeful, strategic, and planned.

Know your facts. You need to be able to cite the facts and the source, and you need to be confident when you do it. If you don’t have your facts straight, you will lose the confidence of the interviewer, or worse, the audience.

If your meeting is on Zoom, dress for the moment and make sure your lighting is on point. If you’ll be on TV, brush up on what does and doesn’t look good on TV.

A really great media interview is a skill. It takes practice. But you CAN have a successful interview if you simply give yourself the best chance by being empathetic to the journalist, respecting their job and being prepared.

 

If you’re looking to brush up your media skills or develop a strategic thought leadership program, take a look at our stand-alone thought leadership offering.

Do you find yourself asking “What will I get for my money if I hire a PR agency?” You might even see offers for guaranteed media coverage. But should PR agencies guarantee media coverage? The reasons the answer is “no” might surprise you. Any PR agency that promises earned media coverage is putting their journalist contacts at risk for journalistic ethics violations. Guaranteed PR coverage is not only unethical, it can even be illegal. “Guaranteed” PR coverage rarely lives as long as earned media coverage. Finally, it doesn’t have the authority and trust that comes with credible earned media.

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Pay-to-Play Earned Media is Unethical

Sadly, we’ve seen it all, including journalists fired for violating professional journalist ethics. Violations might include not disclosing a monetary relationship or other conflict or interest. Paying a journalist under the table to write about a company or a product is the signal of an inexperienced, desperate, or unethical PR agency. These agencies don’t garner favor by journalists who value their jobs, and getting a journalist fired isn’t the way to reinforce media relationships. And when you hire a PR agency that does this, you’re attaching your brand’s reputation to unethical and even illegal behavior. No matter how cheap guaranteed PR coverage is, the cost to your reputation will far outweigh any benefits.

There is such a thing as legitimate sponsored coverage. And while sponsored coverage LOOKS like an article, it’s actually an advertisement. Secured through a media outlet’s advertising team, never directly with a journalist, sponsored coverage is a legitimate form of advertising. The FCC always requires sponsored coverage to identify itself as paid. Even Google wants to know what links are sponsored, and not tagging them correctly is an SEO risk authoritative and important media outlets won’t risk. Press releases are a great example of paid or sponsored coverage. Paid placements have a role in a campaign, and any good PR agency can make recommendations about how to use these tools in your campaign.

Guaranteed Coverage Isn’t Usually Authoritative

The primary reason fast-growing brands and hyper-growth companies need PR is for both exposure and trust that typically comes from earned media.

Today’s readers and content consumers are incredibly savvy. After thousands of hours of advertising exposure, most consumers can sniff out the difference between advertising articles and journalistic pieces. Like all advertisements, ethically secured readers’ and viewers’ trust earned coverage because journalists maintain independence.

We’ve seen self-proclaimed PR experts use their positions as media contributors to promote their clients; we’ve seen these same people banned from esteemed outlets like Entrepreneur and Forbes. Most times, the brands paying for this coverage did not know that what the “PR expert” was doing was unethical or illegal. No one wins in this situation, certainly not the brand who thought they paid a PR firm to secure high-value coverage. This is especially painful because once discovered by the media outlet, that content is often removed from their website and therefore the internet; this rarely happens with earned media coverage which lasts as long as the website is up.

Sponsored or Paid Coverage Doesn’t Last as Long

While earned media takes strategy, expertise, and yes, time, ethical sponsored or paid coverage doesn’t last as long as earned coverage. Sponsored and paid coverage, while it has its place, is like any other advertisement: it typically runs for a limited amount of time, then it disappears. One of the underappreciated perks of earned media is its longevity.

There’s nothing wrong with sponsored or paid coverage. We’ve seen some really remarkable pieces of sponsored coverage that went beyond the advertisement and well into providing true value for readers. The Washington Post, the New York Times, all do spectacular special projects like this. The starting cost is usually in the $50,000+ range. Regular ad rates for a premium location like the (printed) back page hover around $30,000 per ad, volume discounts usually apply to annual contracts. But hey, you’re getting ad placement in one of the world’s most credible news outlets at least once for that price.

 

Today’s modern PR firms are savvy in today’s media landscape, including traditional, paid, and digital mediums. We take our professional PR ethics very seriously, including guaranteed media coverage. Hire a PR firm you can trust and trust your PR firm.