How is thought leadership different from PR and marketing?

A few years ago, I sat down with a friend who had just left her role as CEO of a prominent PR firm in Silicon Valley. I asked her which piece of her job she would miss the least. She smiled and said it was working with CEOs of technology companies who hired her team to remake them as thought leaders when they really didn’t have any original thoughts of their own or any vision of the future they’d like to see.

Sadly, thought leadership has recently been lumped in with PR and marketing activities as a critical component of driving traffic to a company website and driving more buyers to a company’s products or services. Vendors of all stripes are being hired to create content that purports to position a CEO or other member of their C-suite as the “go-to” in their field of expertise, and to brand the company as “visionary”.

While I have no problem with companies and C-suite executives looking for maximum exposure, building their brands or participating in content or influencer marketing, I would argue that none of those activities is synonymous with thought leadership. I’m not advocating for a purity test where only those that pass can be deemed thought leaders, but I would recommend companies and individuals ask themselves these 3 questions to determine whether their activities really qualify as thought leadership.

Read more in the UK Daily Telegraph Business Insider.

Image purchased through Shutterstock by Gizmo Global.

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