Fresh eyes

Five steps to positioning your brand as a thought leader

Positioning your brand as a thought leader - a green paper boat leads as other paper boats follow
Paul Tustin Client Director PR & Comms Headshot

Published by Paul Tustin,
PR & Communications Director at Freshfield

In a 24/7 news cycle, with messages and information at every turn on every channel, it’s a real challenge to grab attention, stand out from the competition and move the people that really matter.

This is particularly true for organisations in advanced manufacturing and technology sectors that want their products or specialists to stand out and be recognised as thought and industry leaders.

Structuring and running a thought leadership PR and communications campaign can add authority to your brand and reputation.

Here we look at five steps to consider when embarking on a campaign of this kind.

1. What is the purpose?

To identify which specific issue or subject your campaign will focus on, consider why you are going to conduct such a campaign and what you want out of it. Will it drive engagement, open doors or simply build trust in the brand?

Are you trying to move people to raise awareness of a safety issue, change a piece of legislation or create a lobbying group for example?

Discuss the campaign theme as a communications team and with relevant experts in the business to help guide the strategy and tactics. Decide how you will make complicated issues simple to digest and meaningful to those who you are trying to influence.

At this stage, set SMART goals that are specific, time related and measurable in a meaningful way which will help provide a guide to what is working and what may need more input or resource.

Does the organisation have any experts who are already known in certain fields of the industry who could be the figureheads and spokespeople?

2. Do your audience homework

Clarify which subjects for a campaign would be most relevant to your target audience and make efforts to understand what they value.

What are their pain points? What is their agenda? What motivates or inspires them?

Find out how they consume their information and in which channels whether trade media, digital or social media, and make sure you are on the platforms where they discuss issues on social media and industry websites.

All of this will help inform your campaign strategy including the theme, the audience being targeted and the channels for the activity and messages.

3. Create a content and channel strategy

Once the theme of the campaign is decided you need to scope a plan of action including the types of content you will use and the channels of most relevance for the audience.

This should ensure you always have content which is visible to the audience and can be consumed on the channels of their choice, consistently communicating the messages of the campaign.

Use your own channels to publish news and content, but more importantly seek to get your work published on the websites and in media consumed by your target audience.

Consider the diversity of activity available and those which are most meaningful including news, feature articles, videos, infographics and in-person.

4. Tone down the self-promotion

Seventy-nine percent of content marketers say that over-promotion is a major issue and can ultimately have a negative effect on the brand.

A successful thought leadership campaign should embrace the wider industry you are targeting, moving people in the industry to believe in what you are trying to achieve.

Also consider how you might work with industry leading bodies to help add weight and authority to the campaign. It is worth speaking to them early to assess synergy and early support.

Creating content which is authentic and specific to your industry rather than commercial will add value, educate the reader and become a source of trusted information.

5. Measure and review

At Freshfield, we follow the principles established by AMEC (International Association for the Measurement and Evaluation of Communication), particularly focusing on outcomes and impacts, rather than just metrics.

Set measurement that is relevant and meaningful against the original goals. This may be a balance of measures such as enquiries, feedback from the audience and key industry organisations, engagement on social, key messages being read in key media and number of times a video has been viewed.

Ultimately, the activity should start to move the audience on your measurement dial from where they were at the start of the campaign along the path to where you want them to be when you decided on the purpose of your campaign at the planning stage.

If you would like to discuss a PR and communications project, please call our experienced team today.

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