Behind every great thought leader is a PR team—or army. Although it may seem like the big names who spring immediately to mind as thought leaders—Elon Musk, say, or Seth Godin—grew their brand organically, in fact they have a full support network behind them. (Not that they’ve always listened to their hired help. But that’s another blog post!)
At the heart of these efforts is a team of thought leadership experts. They’re building industry recognition and media relations for their clients, crafting high-quality content, generating leads, and managing crises. They’re writing press releases, blog posts, ebooks, and social media updates. They’re taking podcasters out for lunch (and sometimes even footing the bill).
In this post, we look at five reasons today’s top executives need a thought leadership PR agency. Just like a company outsources its IT, so too should a business leader hire professionals with expertise in branding and messaging, content creation, liaising with journalists, and all the other services the agency can provide.
1. Working with an agency saves precious time
When was the last time you, as someone running a company or business, had a leisurely few hours to contemplate your brand or what to post on LinkedIn?
C-level executives have busy schedules. Tasks like managing teams, overseeing operations, planning expansions or new products are, and should be, top-of-mind. The things that bolster your image as a thought leader—social media content, blog posts, opinion pieces—can seem secondary when weighed against the day-to-day decisions that affect employees’ lives and your bottom line. And even if a CEO or startup head were to take on such tasks, doing it right requires a certain amount of research and trial-and-error.
Thought leadership PR agencies already have people thinking about this kind of thing full-time. These content creators, brand strategists, copywriters and even ghostwriters (for when you get around to that book that you’ve been meaning to write) are ready to swoop in and rebuild, remodel, and remake. This A-Team for C-Suiters can take on the heavy lifting, allowing executives to focus on their core responsibilities.
2. Thought leadership agencies do the strategic heavy lifting
Not only can the right thought leadership team help save time, they will also, as the cliché goes, think outside of the box.
Think you know your brand ? An experienced agency will offer a fresh perspective on its strengths and weaknesses? Think you should be concentrating on getting your company mentioned in Forbes and the Wall Street Journal? The right strategist can point out overlooked opportunities, from NPR’s very popular podcast How I Built This to local and international TED events.
3. The right agency can craft high-quality content
Thought leadership-driven content isn’t off-the-cuff hot takes bashed out at quitting time. It’s high-quality, informative, and inspirational. It is clear, concise, and strategically timed and edited. It tracks with the brand. It does not harm animals, small children, or former employees.
It takes time, consideration, and creativity to conceive, make, and put into action.
An experienced agency can come up with ideas for content that will break through the noise. A PR agency can also decide how best to present the ideas, whether in blog posts, infographics, articles, white papers, eBooks, podcasts, video, or webseries. The agency will also have contacts in other industries and work with reliable collaborators to ensure that the content is of the highest and most professional caliber.
4. A great PR team will get you earned media opportunities
Perhaps more than any other factor, earned media—media that a business doesn’t own or pay for, like a profile in Forbes.com, say, or a CEO’s appearance on Joe Rogan’s podcast—helps build industry recognition.
And thought leadership PR agencies know media. The agencies are often run and staffed by people who once worked in TV, digital, print, or other forms of media. (Don’t worry, they’re all healthier and more self-actualized now.) They often have good relations with journalists, bloggers, and influencers, and understand how they think—what they’re looking for and when, what aspects of a story will draw them in, what their deadlines are, their favorite tipple. A good press agent is johnny-on-the-spot when it comes to providing a journalist with someone who can give a quote on a breaking story.
This all adds up to more and better industry recognition. This, in turn, helps top execs advance their personal missions, build their company and client and customer base and earn the respect and acknowledgement of their peers in the industry.
5. Managing crises
Finally, a thought leadership PR agency can help manage crises. Things can and do go wrong. A high-ranking exec tweets the wrong thing or a company launches a new ad campaign featuring stuffed animals in bondage gear.
This is where a thought leadership PR agency can come to the rescue. When something goes sideways and panic sets in, an outside agency can come in and level a dispassionate eye on the scene. Through experience, from knowing what works and what doesn’t in certain situations, the agency can advise on next steps—what to say (if anything) to the press and/or on social media, who should say it (CFO? VP? CEO?) and when (immediately? never?), and suggest other solutions to mitigate the (potential) damage.
And those, friends, are reasons that business leaders need to work with a thought leader PR agency. We believe that thought leaders are made, not born. And that, without mentioning any names, a PR thought leadership agency can help that transformation.