What exactly is thought leadership?

We often get asked what ‘thought leadership’ is and what this has to do with PR.

Thought leadership taps into the talent and expertise of the people within an organisation. Thought leaders give their own insight and perspective on the industry using their experience, and at the same time act as spokespeople for their company. They usually communicate through the press, but also through content marketing too.

Here we look at where thought leadership comes into play in B2B PR and how to become a thought leader.

The aims of PR: some context

The top-level aim of public relations activity is to raise brand awareness, build a company’s reputation with its stakeholders (these include but are not limited to: employees, customers, potential new customers, partners, investors, and the media), and finally, to build trust in the brand.

Editorial opportunities are a fantastic way to do communicate the value your brand brings to its customers and partners. These can either be news articles (such as securing funding or launching a new product), comments in broader industry articles (or ‘bylines’), opinion articles, or speaking engagements.

Unlike advertising, editorial opportunities don’t allow you to have full control over the messaging of an article – the final say is down to the journalist and the editor at the publication. But having your brand discussed by a third party that exerts an influence in your sectors comes across as more authentic than simply paying to publish content.

Lastly, securing editorial opportunities relies on strong relationships with the media, plus having an interesting or topical story and being able to communicate and execute the story really well.

The value of thought leadership in PR

One of the key ways PR can help you become a thought leader is through providing comments to an article or writing a feature, or opinion article in the press. Contributing an opinion article is generally more common in B2B press, rather than B2C.

Opinion articles are fantastic for communicating the industry expertise of your spokespeople, providing an opportunity to talk about the company (without coming across as too ‘salesy’), showing the relevance of your company to today’s news, and ensuring a consistent and ongoing media presence for your company that drives awareness amongst stakeholders.

Articles should talk about an industry topic in general so as to be relevant, informative, and interesting to a wide audience. Specific mentions of your brand would be kept to one or two relevant or topical points.

How to become a thought leader

Becoming a thought leader doesn’t happen overnight, it takes time to build this reputation, even amongst business leaders of the biggest companies. Here’s our advice:

  • Clarify your areas of expertise & interest – think outside your day-to-day role, what’s the bigger picture? What trends are people talking about, what are you seeing affecting the industry right now?
  • Lean on data – it’s always preferable to back up your opinions with data or evidence wherever possible.
  • Be reliable and consistent – become a source that the media know they can depend on to meet a tight deadline and give fresh insight.
  • Carry on learning – great thought leaders continue to digest industry and consumer news as much as possible, as well as attend industry events. This helps their thought leadership expertise grow.
  • Remember to share – many thought leaders miss out on the opportunity to share their media appearances and contributions through their own networks, further enhancing their reputation. Social media agencies can help with this.
  • Seek expert help – constant communication with the press takes time and effort and is often best trusted to a PR or Communications agency to do this on your behalf. They can also help identify which PR opportunities would best benefit your brand.

If you’re a company operating within the short-term rental, hotel, living or real estate tech ecosystems, then contact our team to find out more about how you thought leadership could benefit your brand’s reputation.

About Laura Bolton

Laura is a Senior PR Account Manager at Abode Worldwide, a B2B public relations and communications agency. Laura works with clients who create technology solutions operating within the short-term rental, hotel, living and real estate ecosystems and helps them raise their profile amongst stakeholders.

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INSIGHT: Working with the Abode Worldwide team, I help clients to raise their brand awareness and reputation, create strong thought leaders from within their company, and help them engage their target market with focused content.