Expertise and Foresight: Agency Leaders Define Thought Leadership

December 16, 2014

As marketers start taking bets on the buzzwords that will characterize 2015, thought leadership is undoubtedly one that will top the list.  On the subject, we’ve recently released our Sophisticated Marketer’s Guide to Thought Leadership including interviews with many expert marketers.

We thought our agency partners, as brand stewards of some of the biggest and most interesting companies in the world, may also have a point of view on this subject.  A couple weeks ago we heard from Alexander Jutkowitz of Group SJR and now we feature a new perspective from Kristin Hollins, Senior Partner at FleishmanHillard below.

Subscribe to the LinkedIn Marketing blog to keep up with more thought leader interviews ahead.

Ask An Expert: Kristin Hollins, SVP & Senior Partner, FleishmanHillard Public Relations

LinkedIn: How do you define thought leadership? 

Kristin: Thought leadership is one of those “buzz words” that gets applied to a lot of communications, but essentially it means offering  expertise and foresight into trends and issues that you are uniquely qualified to address.

  • Your expertise is what makes you and what you say credible. It’s as important to establish your personal credibility as it is to offer credible content.
  • Your foresight is what makes your point of view compelling and engaging.  Foresight is what makes or breaks thought leadership.

LinkedIn: How important do you think thought leadership is to brands today?

Kristin: Brands are a promise, and increasingly your stakeholders want to understand those promises more deeply as part of their decisions to purchase, partner, join or even invest in companies. Stakeholders want to know things like what a company believes in/stands for, where company executives think the industry is headed and what the company is doing to lead new advances.

It is for these reasons that it’s important to have thought leaders who offer engaging perspectives that go beyond a specific product or service and encompass the vision and values of the organization and broad industry leadership insights.

LinkedIn: Is thought leadership the right strategy for every brand?

Kristin: The short answer is no. There are some key questions that every brand should ask itself before embarking on thought leadership because anytime you raise visibility, you increase scrutiny.

Questions to ask:

  • As a company, have we codified our mission, vision and values?
  • Is our company delivering on its brand promise?
  • Do we have the right elements? The elements include: Are we going to be able to keep it up?
    • Goals that support the business – short and long-term
    • The right expertise and experts
    • The brand lends itself to compelling thought-leadership content upon which others can engage.

LinkedIn: What most surprised you about your thought-leadership efforts on LinkedIn?

Kristin: Hands down, what surprised us most was meaningful engagement. We find a vast majority of the comments and responses to be thoughtful and authentic to the professional experiences of members.

The other thing that has surprised us is the detailed level of analytics and targeting available with the LinkedIn platform.

Finally, it’s the support.  On a personal level, LinkedIn has been a terrific partner.

LinkedIn: What is an agency’s role in shaping thought leadership strategies on behalf of clients?

Kristin: An agency’s role is to ensure that the right conditions for thought leadership exist through research, thoughtful content and conversations that align with the brand. Since our job is to build and protect reputations, it’s also important to have an effective mitigation approach should a crisis occur.

Establish yourself and your company as a thought leader. Download The Sophisticated Marketer’s Guide to Thought Leadership today to get started with more expert tips to help you succeed.