How to generate value by being a ‘thought–follower’ as well as a thought-leader
Do you or your business prefer to influence the world around you?
Or do you let others influence you?
The advantages of being a thought–leader are well-established, not only in public relations but in the world generally.
By introducing new ideas and original opinions about the market to discussions in the media and in public, thought leaders attract and persuade target audiences, stakeholders and those who influence their attitudes to see their point of view and regard them as authoritative experts on issues and trends. This helps them to elevate the reputation and status of themselves and businesses. They can even seem to be the market leader even if, in market share terms, they are not.
Among the audiences that a thought–leader can influence is the media – journalists looking for commentators to interview will contact those who have already previously shown insight and provided interesting thoughts on relevant issues.
So, when thought–leaders have such influence, it is no wonder that many organisations compete for this role – and there would appear to be no merit it being a ‘thought-follower’. Or is there?
Certainly not if a comment merely agrees with a thought-leader’s view and contributes nothing new to the debate. But being a thought–follower can be beneficial if the commentator picks up on another’s view or action and improves upon it with a new opinion.
It is a PR technique that we have developed and used extensively for many years – to enhance our clients’ positions as thought-leaders.
By monitoring articles, letters, blogs and tweets in, for instance, the business, marketing and HR media, print online and in social media, we identify opportunities to respond rapidly, via letters to the editor or via comments online, offering new thinking that either disagrees with the first comments or highlights omissions in the argument.
So, by being ‘thought-followers’ in this way, we – well, our clients – once again become thought-leaders on the issue!