Written by Celia Jones • Published 25th September 2018 • 4 minute read

Thought leadership is a term that you hear a lot in the world of personal PR – but what role does this play in establishing someone as a media authority? And what does ‘thought leadership’ actually mean?

To dispel all the myths, thought leadership is not brainwashing with 1984-style connotations. It’s the opposite. Thought leadership is a phrase to describe someone sharing their opinion via long-form written articles in the media. There are, unfortunately, no prizes awarded to the ‘best thoughts’ – but there is a position of press authority and public trust to be won.

At PHA, we are fortunate enough to work with business people at the top of their game, and we work to position them at the forefront of the issues that matter to them, and that are making headlines.

At The PHA Group, our clients (and their expertise) run across a  full range of sectors, from energy suppliers to energy bars, law firms to luggage delivery specialists. It follows that a lawyer doesn’t necessarily want to speak to the same audience as a logistics expert, so we make sure each client’s voice, knowledge and unique take on things is heard, read and seen by the right people. Increasingly, that means thought leadership is changing.

Thought leadership was traditionally long-form articles but there are a host of ways we can position your opinion, with authority, in the press:

Have an opinion:

There are some amazing opportunities to get an opinion out there across print and online media – from long-form bylines that give you the freedom to discuss your thoughts in detail, to short and snappy letters to editors that we can turn around within hours. The key thing to remember is that you need to offer something interesting and authentic – grounded in your experience – and it must be relevant.

When an opinion piece works, it really works. One of our legal clients was the talk of an industry event this year when she appeared in City AM and then on Sky and TalkRadio to discuss GDPR before the legislation was enforced.

Hot off the press:

Reacting to the news agenda is another fantastic way to build your personal profile and establish yourself as an authority in the media. It all hinges on how quickly you can respond to something – breaking stories must be responded to within the hour. If these quick timeframes are honoured, it can lead to your comment being covered widely across all mediums – broadcast, print, online – and effectively ‘hijacking’ the news to support a personal or business agenda. We’ve had fantastic success reacting to breaking stories in this way, and the rapid response time pays off.

There are also things you can prepare for; spring and autumn budgets, competitor company results and so on, and we make sure we’re always looking out for relevant topics for our clients.

Be social:

Thought leadership isn’t the exclusive reserve of the so-called traditional media, and increasingly, experts take to digital platforms to share their insight. A huge benefit of LinkedIn and Twitter is that you can put paid spend behind posts to target the most relevant audiences and measure the impact and reach of your content.

James Reed, Chairman of Reed.co.uk, the UK’s leading job site, has a weekly Monday Message on his LinkedIn page that attracts thousands of engagements every week. It gives James the opportunity to comment on stories that he finds interesting; from lessons learned from Gareth Southgate’s management style to how to recover from the back-to-work blues. The blogs provide an unedited look into what interests James. Jobseekers take note!

As well as social being a platform to share unique content, it’s also a platform we use to amplify great coverage – ensuring that there’s a ‘second wave’ of attention paid to the headlines and opinions that contain core messages of the businesses and people we represent.

Events and awards:

Events and awards are excellent ways of bolstering your credentials, and shortlistings and wins also provide us with a great news story to issue to the media. One of our wonderful clients was awarded a Queen’s Award for Enterprise earlier this year, which serves as an undeniable proof-point when talking to journalists about the business’ astonishing growth. The content of the entry has been invaluable for drafting content – and vice versa, the opinion articles we placed, and PR successes formed part of the business’ entry, bringing the cycle of establishing a personal profile full-circle.

Thought leadership isn’t something that you can tick off a to-do list, it’s an ongoing activity that takes many forms across multiple channels. In supporting a client’s personal profile, we can authentically raise awareness of the company or organisation they represent.

If you’d like to speak to us about personal PR, please contact us today to find out more.