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  • Tag Archive: Thought Leadership Content

    1. How to Write a Byline That Positions You as a ‘Thoughtful’ Leader

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      I don’t mean to get meta, but I’m about to write a thought leadership post about thought leadership.

      Contributed content is more accessible than ever as publishers democratize writing opportunities in exchange for traffic volume. In fact, so many C-suite executives have columns or are self-publishing articles that it’s changed the meaning of “thought leader” from what it originally implied. Now, it’s somewhat of an industry buzzword.

      Buzz or no buzz, I fundamentally believe that powerful thought leadership isn’t dependent upon whether or not you have a column in that popular media outlet everyone wants to write for; It’s in actual, thoughtful leadership.

      Are you thinking about your industry differently than your colleagues?

      Are you predicting what’s next or laying the groundwork for more evolved thought?

      How are you putting those forward-thinking best practices into play every day?

      These are a few of the questions thoughtful leaders consider before they ever brainstorm a byline topic for that “thought leadership” article or column their PR team so diligently secured. It’s increasingly important to make sure that if you are writing these types of articles, you’re writing something that will actually surprise or inspire new avenues of thought.  

      So how do you write bylines responsibly and in a way that actually adds value to your industry?

      First, check yourself. (Have I said that before?)

      Just because you have an opinion doesn’t mean you’re a thought leader. Being a thought leader is something deeper; It requires an intimate understanding of a certain subject matter and it’s often a long-term commitment. If you or your CEO writes a one-off piece, it very well could have a positive impact for you and your brand. But it doesn’t necessarily set the stage for long-term, trust-building thought leadership.

      People who are invested in being effective thought leaders are doing so by publishing on a regular cadence, participating in speaking opportunities, and engaging in dialogue online so they are consistently echoing their points in everything they do. These efforts have a long-tail effect as opposed to pushing out an article just to be published.

      Second, identify article topics that ladder back to your business objectives.

      Because if you’re not, why do it? Writing something worth reading starts with two things: open-ended brainstorming with creative individuals who understand a company’s key objectives and laser-focused idea refinement.

      Brainstorm at least 10 article ideas with a group (whether it’s your comms folks, on-staff writers, or maybe even your mom), then develop the strongest of those ideas until you have a concept that’s non-self-promotional, on-message, and catered to a few carefully selected publications that you either already have relationships with or accept contributed-content pitches.

      Third, create a publication-specific abstract.

      Once you have a solid article idea, it’s time to write an abstract. To do so, you first need a unique point of view on the topic you’re looking to explore that’s relevant to the publication you’re pitching.

      This short article summary should include potential headlines, a paragraph describing the article’s overall concept, sources you may consider using (reports, data, etc.), and ideas for potential imagery, assuming the publication accepts imagery suggestions.

      In addition to your abstract, you will need to share a bio that explains why you are qualified to write about the topic at hand and a high-resolution headshot. You’ll also want to include links to articles you’ve already written, may it be blog content, previously published bylines, or interviews with the press that embody what you have to share.

      It’s sort of like the chicken or the egg: It’s tough to land contributed content if you haven’t written anything before and the more content you’ve published, the more likely you are to land new bylines… no one said it’s fair.

      And if you already have a column lined up, discuss your article idea with your editor until you come to an agreement on a solid angle for the piece.

      Now, put your pen to work.

      Ideas for articles can strike like lightning. When this happens, I can write a solid piece in less than 20 minutes. But the majority of the time, this is not the case. (I wish it were!) Usually, I start with the concept then create an outline to organize my thoughts.

      In this outline, I note sources or data I’ll want to reference. Then, I write the piece, insert links the reader may find useful, and brainstorm at least five headline or title options until I find one that properly portrays the topic and hooks attention.

      Jeff Haden, columnist for Inc. Magazine is great at writing catchy headlines. Check out his headlines here for inspiration. Sometimes, I also use CoSchedule’s Headline Analyzer tool for checking the likelihood that a headline will perform well.  

      Before I submit a piece to one of my publishers, I have at least one or two of my communications or writing pros offer editing suggestions. I can’t emphasize how important it is to have an experienced editor of some sort on your team. They can help strip out what’s unimportant and ensure that the editors accepting your articles don’t have to spend much time cleaning up your work (which will make them like your contributed content way more).

      Everyone who works in public relations and communications has a responsibility to add value to today’s media landscape. How will you and your PR team contribute to its betterment?

      Thoughful Leader

      That wraps up our Optimizing PR Fundamentals series! Hope you enjoyed it. Check out Rachel Kirschen’s post “How to Write an Email Your Customers Will Give a Crap About” from last week if you missed it.

    2. Getting the Most Out of LinkedIn Pulse

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      LinkedIn Pulse

      As part of our overall marketing strategy, we spend a tremendous amount of time producing targeted thought leadership content. Now that we have a bank of it, we’re always thinking about ways to creatively reuse and leverage what we’ve already created to continually share useful intel with our audience.

      One of the things we’ve been exploring a lot lately is how, when, and where to repost to avoid issues related to duplicate content, etc. For example, if we share a post here on our blog, we typically wait a week to repost the article on LinkedIn, and when we do repost, we do things like change the title, adjust or truncate the content, and layer in additional information. Other times, we post original content on LinkedIn first in order to experiment and test out alternate approaches.  

      Many people are still figuring out reposting best practices and how to make the most of LinkedIn Pulse publishing. So let’s explore a few ways you can amplify your content on LinkedIn, regardless of how you get multiple-use out of the original work.

      1. Look to LinkedIn Pulse’s “Influencers” for posting best practices.

      Follow a few of the more than 500 LinkedIn Pulse Influencers, from Mark Cuban to Lena Dunham, and start studying what they cover and how often they publish. Think about how their posts are positioning them as industry pundits, notice if they publish certain pieces of content elsewhere by doing a quick Google search of article titles, and take note of nuances such as article length and imagery. Are they backlinking to posts on their blog or to other influencers’ posts? What are people commenting about?

      1. Everytime you post on LinkedIn, think about authenticity, not self-promotion.

      Chairman and CEO of Kaiser Permanente and LinkedIn Influencer Bernard J. Tyson’s examination of race relations in response to Ferguson reached half a million people on LinkedIn. Why? The authenticity and passion that resonated from Tyson’s post not only brought positive attention to him as an influential thought leader, but also drew positive recognition for his company just by virtue of the post.

      Remember, the key to thought leadership is to publish your perspective on highly relevant topics, not shouting out your brand (because, simply put, that’s called advertising).

      1. Make sure you’re using visuals.

      As you know from blog, social media, and media relations best practices, a picture is worth a thousand words. LinkedIn profiles with a photo are 14 times more likely to be viewed than those without so give your posts some image love too.

      Not sure where to snag free stock imagery? Try Pixabay, Gratisography (if you’re feeling a little cray), or Death to the Stock Photo which sends free photos to your inbox every month.

      1. Engage, engage, engage.

      After you post, your work is not done. Actively engage with your network by creating conversations in response to LinkedIn Pulse post comments. If someone likes your post, be “pat-their-back proactive” by checking out what they’ve written on LinkedIn and share the love as you would on any other social platform.

      Bonus points if your LinkedIn post includes a highly shareable graphic created using Canva or any other graphic design platform that empowers non-designers to turn their thoughts into visual hooks.

      1. Encourage fellow employees to join in.

      If you publish something you think your colleagues will find interesting, send them the link via email, Slack, or anywhere else outside of LinkedIn that could help the post gain off-site exposure. (Sharing the post via your social media channels should be a given at this point… )

      The results? A) Your colleagues will probably read it. B) Some of them will “Like” it. C) Some will comment. D) You may just inspire them to write and publish a thought leadership post of their own.

      LinkedIn is no longer just about making connections with other business professionals. It’s become a one-stop-shop for communicating thoughts, ideas, experience, and useful information with a highly targeted group (your carefully curated network). How are you making the most of LinkedIn Pulse?

      A version of this article appeared on Inc.



      Thanks, Rebekah. Meet another bright mind behind the scenes at AirPR:

      Ryan Rapp