Thought Leadership Can Position Companies for Success

January 21, 2020

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Drop in CEO confidence offset by purpose-driven communications.

As company leaders look to the future, the importance of connecting with key audiences becomes increasingly important. CEOs are the face and voice of the company, but as spokespersons, many ask how to effectively relate to shareholders, stakeholders and key audiences to position the company for success.

The recent Confidence Index by the Worldcom Public Relations Group, which PCI helped establish more than 30 years ago, found that CEO confidence in the ability to reach audiences is plummeting worldwide, with confidence of U.S. business leaders down 51 percent.. A key takeaway from this report is that CEOs no longer have confidence in their corporate image and brand reputation.

According to the survey, influencers have become the No. 1 audience for leader attention, but they have the second-lowest Confidence Index score, indicating that leaders aren’t confident in their ability to reach these audiences. Increasingly, leaders also are losing confidence in the role of the media in reaching their intended audiences.

The Impact of Influencers

Influencers play a large part in reaching key audiences in every industry. Yet the Worldcom CEO Confidence Index shows that although influencers are a high priority for CEOs, organizations are unsure of their ability to engage with them.

Having built loyalty through trust and authenticity, influencers expect organizations they interact with to do the same. By knowing and living their organization’s values, leaders can reach this group with a clear, authentic message. By training spokespersons and other members of the organization on messaging and brand values, the organization provides valuable, consistent information to these outside audiences.

Strategic planning empowers organizations to tailor specific messaging to target audiences. By researching each influencer individually and ensuring that they reflect their brand, leaders are able to ensure that the correct message reaches the relevant listeners.

Influencer Events Highlight Importance of Messaging

Today, events are more than gatherings for supporters – they also attract the influencers who are important to your business.

For example, when a cultural institution wanted to draw attention to a special exhibit in a last push before it ended a four-year run, PCI leveraged the naturally photogenic qualities of the experience with an exclusive after-hours Instagram event to create renewed online buzz for the exhibit. PCI also collaborated with the institution to develop a behind-the-scenes experience to entice influencers, who were targeted based on their number of followers, quality of posts, and what they cover. The agency met with several of the influencers before the event to learn how they work and their specific needs when taking photographs and crafting posts.

The resulting posts from the influencers were positive and authentic. In addition to Instagram posts, influencers also shared posts on other social media platforms and blogs, expanding the reach of this effort. The event also established deeper, longer-term relationships between the institution and influencers, which it now leverages for other communications opportunities.

Media Plays a Part

Even though some leaders have lost confidence in the role of the media to tell their story, strategic media outreach is still an effective tool. Brand storytelling is increasingly popular and necessary. An organization with a compelling story and a transparent spokesperson will draw the attention of the media as well as shareholders, donors and other important audiences. Implementing a thought leadership strategy highlights the vision, values and successes of the company, and also positions the organization’s leader as an expert in his or her field. This, in turn, builds audience trust and creates a powerful presence for the organization.

Spokesperson Training

An effective way to demonstrate command of messages is through spokesperson training. To refine the delivery of an organization’s messages, PCI works with clients to identify and train spokespersons on controlling interviews and briefings with the media, including in-person and through written communication.

PCI ensures that an institution’s spokespersons are also well-prepared to talk with media and other important stakeholders in times of crisis. CEOs and other leaders send a strong message that the situation is under control when they can address concerns and instill confidence using effective messages and delivery.

Have a Story

A clearly defined brand narrative is essential to build a thought leadership presence.. This ensures that an organization’s leaders reflect its mission and goals, and share them clearly.

By demonstrating excellence and expertise in the field through compelling narratives, leadership can further advance the value of the company. Strategic storytelling, tailored for all types of media, is a powerful tool that can be used to an organization’s great advantage through thought leadership opportunities.

The Importance of an Integrated Campaign

Although traditional media is still important, an integrated campaign is vital in 2020. The media is one outlet for thought leaders, but to successfully establish your brand presence and expert status, integration with digital platforms is more important than ever.

Writing and disseminating blog posts will cement a leader’s expert status and give audiences a reason to continue to return to a website and social platforms. Instead of pushing messages out, engage with audiences to create a following and brand loyalty. An integrated plan consisting of traditional and digital media (including influencer strategy) will grow your brand. Read more about a successful integrated communications campaign employed by PCI here.

By employing strategic communication plans to guide work with influencers, customers and the media, leaders can confidently serve as a masters of subject matter and champions of their brands.