Guide to Becoming a Thought Leader

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When we ask clients about their goals, one of the first things we hear is a desire to become a thought leader within their industry. Thought leadership is a powerful tool in your overall public relations strategy, however, we often find that few people have taken the time to intentionally define what they hope to achieve with thought leadership.

So, let’s take a step back and answer a few questions about thought leadership.

What is a thought leader?

A thought leader is a person, business or brand whose advice, insight, wisdom and expertise is sought after as an authoritative voice in a certain field. Thought leaders can recognize and predict industry trends, educate audiences and have the ability to inspire and influence others.

Is a thought leader an influencer? 

Yes and no. Thought leaders have influence. Their opinions, thoughts and ideas help people make decisions, but those viewpoints are based on facts and research. 

An influencer’s opinion of a brand, product or idea often comes after they have been paid or compensated for their endorsement. 

Will thought leadership help my business? 

It’s important to understand thought leadership is not the same as content marketing. They are similar and oftentimes work hand-in-hand, but they are not completely synonymous. Selling is the main driver behind content marketing - a person, business or brand is not trying to start a conversation with you, instead they’re talking to you. With thought leadership, a person, business or brand is having a dialogue with you. 

While thought leadership can help drive brand awareness, attract new customers and top talent, the overall goal is to educate. Thought leaders need to shift their mindset from “sell” to “teach” in order to be successful.

Now, let’s answer the biggest question. 

How do I become a thought leader? 

Start by asking yourself these three questions:

#1 - What are my goals?

To be a successful thought leader, you need to know what you want to accomplish by sharing your expertise. You also need to identify your target audience and the outcome you hope to generate. Having a clear picture of success from the start will help ensure your goals are met. 

#2 - What is my message?

A consistent message allows your audience to clearly understand what you’re trying to convey. Knowing exactly what your expertise is will help you and your team formulate a strategic thought leadership plan and will help build your reputation in the market. 

#3 - What is my strategy?

Thought leadership involves multiple arms of PR, from earned to owned and paid media. Having a strategy on how you will utilize each type of media is important. Utilizing a team and partnering with a PR agency who has experience in thought leadership can make all the difference. 


If you're not including thought leadership in your PR strategy, you're missing out on an opportunity to position yourself as a recognized expert in your industry. Contact us if you have questions about thought leadership or want to incorporate it into your PR efforts.