Are You a Thought Leader?

29 04 2013

Since the term “thought leader” was coined in business circles some 20 years ago, many business-to-business companies and executives have yearned to be thought leaders in their industries.

By definition, a thought leader is a person (or entity) who is recognized by peers for having progressive and innovative ideas, and who shares these ideas and helps to effect change with those ideas.

Note the key words “recognized” and “share.” scarecrow-wizard-of-oz

It’s not enough to develop great ideas. To be a thought leader, you need to be recognized for having great ideas, and you need to share and champion these ideas through effective communication.

Of course, in today’s world, this communication includes a full range of earned and owned media activities – PR approaches such as publicity, social media, speaking and blogging, to name just a few. And ultimately, recognition of a thought leader builds and gains momentum as media coverage and visibility are generated and sustained.

Here are seven things that can help you (or your boss) to become recognized as a thought leader:

  1. Create a viewpoint – Thought leaders have a viewpoint that helps shape their story and puts the facts and numbers into context. They provide insight and perspective on key issues, they offer opinions, and they foster a discussion around an issue.
  2. Lead a movement – Thought leaders become advocates for a cause that can help a group, an industry or a country. They educate us on a problem or issue, shed some light for us on the pros and cons, and lead us to explore the possible solutions. They urge us to take action.
  3. Show us the future – Thought leaders show us their vision, offer a forecast or make a prediction … and they persuade other people to share it, embrace it and support it.
  4. Make it personal – Thoughts leaders build their viewpoint and vision around their personal beliefs and life philosophy. They are credible because they are authentic; they don’t just talk about someone else’s solution, they own it, they feel it, they live it. They are committed.
  5. Get yourself out there – Thought leaders are pro-active; they put themselves out there. Their PR teams can help them find opportunities to push their viewpoint – such as speaking engagements, op-ed placements, guest columns, articles, blogs and vlogs, news releases, media interviews, etc.
  6. Make yourself available to media – Thought leaders take on the mantel of experts; they make themselves accessible to journalists and analysts and are ever-ready to provide quotes, color, context, clarification and perspective.
  7. Capture their attention – Thought leaders use word devices to gain attention and stay top of mind. They prepare sound bites, use controversy and paint mental pictures. They employ plain language, analogies and anecdotes to bring their point to life. They create a buzzword or catchphrase that capsulizes their view in a memorable way.

Think of the executives you view as true thought leaders. Which of these tactics do they use? And which of these tactics could work best for you?

Business Best Practices: Every Office Needs an Eagle Eye

17 04 2013

(Post by Jessica Killenberg Muzik, APR, Vice President – Account Services)

I’ve always had a love of editing.  Sure, as a communicator I like to write, but there’s something about editing that I enjoy even more. JK FB color

Perhaps it’s taking a fresh eye at something and realizing that you caught an error before it went out the door that feels almost rewarding … or perhaps it’s knowing that one small editing suggestion made the final written product that much better?

Whatever the case may be, at our office we call this person an “eagle eye” – which, by definition, is one that observes with close attention. Yep, that sounds about right.

As long as I can remember, we’ve always been in the practice of having an eagle eye review and proofread our work before it is sent to a client / reporter, is posted to the newswire / website, etc. Typically, this eagle eye staffer has been uninvolved in the drafting process for this project, so she or he comes to this review with a clean, fresh perspective.

Why uninvolved? Why an eagle eye?

Well, it’s pretty simple. As writers, sometimes we are too close to our own work to see the imperfections. Our minds tend to gloss over typos and fill in the gaps between what we wrote and what we thought we wrote.

When you have someone who is far removed from a project take a final look at a document, they will often catch a mistake or two that those closer to the project may have simply overlooked.

It adds a step and a little time, but taking the time to do things correctly the first time actually ends up saving time, money … and, often, embarrassment.

Having an eagle eye is a safety netEagle Eye

Even still, mistakes occasionally can and will happen. We’re only human, after all.

But having an eagle eye process in place can minimize mistakes and enhance credibility, especially when writing is a key part of your business.

What best business practices have you implemented within your organization to catch potential mistakes before they happen?

Business Best Practices: Kudos, WOWs and All That Good Stuff

3 04 2013

(Post by Jessica Killenberg Muzik, APR, Vice President – Account Services)

Meetings … love them or hate them, they are an essential part of doing business.

But what if meetings were something your team actually looked forward to or, at the very least, didn’t mind attending?

Yes, it can happen.

Hands Applauding

At Bianchi PR we have a standing (albeit flexible) Thursday morning staff meeting and toward the bottom of the agenda is always a bullet point titled “kudos.”

During the kudos portion of the meeting, our leader acknowledges each team member’s achievements for the past week.  Sometimes the achievement is a major media hit for a client in a key publication, sometimes it’s scoring a big media interview, and sometimes it’s just stepping up on those everyday tasks that keep things humming along for the firm and our clients.

The key point: giving positive recognition to each team member for “things gone right.” It encourages and reinforces positive behavior. And beyond that, it helps close the meeting on an upbeat, sometimes inspirational, note.

Now, above and beyond the kudos, we also celebrate “WOWs.” A WOW is an acknowledgement for those times when a staff member has figuratively “Walked On Water” for a client.

Although our clients are unaware of it (until perhaps they read this blog), WOWs actually come directly from them.

Any time a client takes the time to write an unsolicited email or note of thanks to the agency for a job well done, our agency CEO generates a WOW certificate for that staffer.

The certificate itself isn’t anything fancy.

It’s simply a piece of paper prominently featuring the acronym WOW along with a brief description how the staffer wow’ed the client.

It’s presented at the next weekly staff meeting, and the recipient posts it near their workspace, as a pleasant reminder of an appreciative client and a grateful employer.

Now, who wouldn’t want to attend a meeting that promises kudos, WOWs and all that good stuff?

When you end a staff meeting on a high note, it encourages your team to continue to do great work. And isn’t that what best business practices are really all about?

What have you done to make your meetings more enjoyable or to encourage great work among your staffers?


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