To become a thought leader, getting one piece of media coverage just won’t cut it.
It doesn’t matter if it’s a full-length feature in The Wall Street Journal. That one article alone will not instantly build you into the thought leader of your industry.
Even getting dozens of features won’t make you into a thought leader overnight. Sure, they will be very beneficial, and you’ll get a lot of value from them if you distribute them properly. But to truly become a thought leader, it takes a lot more than just some media coverage.
To become a thought leader, you need to be everywhere.
From investors to journalists to clients and employees, when someone is researching your industry, all roads must eventually lead back to you: the industry thought leader.
To get to this stage, it takes a long time. And gaining momentum early on is never easy. But maintaining momentum can be just as hard, if not harder. Just think about how many companies you see out there with a press page full of top tier media hits…from 2015.
Those companies found some initial success, but failed to keep it going, which means that when it comes time to announce more news, they have to start the process all over again.
By including bylined content in your thought leadership development arsenal, you give yourself the ability to not only gain momentum faster but to keep it moving in between big news stories.
Here are the exact reasons why you must include bylined content in your strategy:
Reason #1: Third-Party Credibility (With a Twist)
When we discuss the value of being in the media, we always go back to one core belief: it’s all about third-party credibility.
The quote below is one of our favorites because it really captures the overall outcome you are aiming for explained in a way everyone can relate to.
Sure, you can tell all your customers you are trusted and that you are the expert they should turn to. But they’ll always know you are more than just a little bit biased toward yourself.
Knowing how important trust is, the solution to this is third-party credibility, which is all about gaining social proof. This isn’t based on some far-out marketing theory. This is based on science and psychology.
Below is how social proof is explained:
If you still aren’t convinced, we recommend picking up a copy of Robert Cialdini’s now infamous book Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion.
Third-Party Media Credibility #1
When it comes to getting third-party credibility, you have a lot of options. The first approach, which everyone wants, of course, is that full feature article in The Wall Street Journal. Getting there takes time, consistency, and an understanding of all the core traits that are required to successfully execute a thought leadership strategy.
In this scenario, the journalist writing the article is the one providing readers with third-party credibility. They won’t willingly write about someone who isn’t trusted and doesn’t add value to their audience, so by getting an article written by a journalist, you gain some social proof.
This approach is highly effective and has been proven to be very successful. But this alone isn’t going to cut it if you want to actually become an industry thought leader.
Third-Party Media Credibility #2
The second approach you can take follows the same core belief. But instead of a journalist providing third-party credibility, it comes from the outlet directly when they allow you to publish a high quality piece of content on their site under your own name.
If it’s a trusted and quality outlet (which you should only focus on anyway), their readers will know that you are credible because you were able to get a piece of content through their editorial process.
Reason #2: Be Found! (Before Your Competitors Are)
Just last week, as we were building out a media list for a client by searching all possible keywords to find the most relevant journalists, we kept seeing the same thing happen over and over again.
We’d come across a headline and would get excited because it was so relevant to what our client offers. But as we researched who wrote it, we kept seeing the same name, over and over again.
That name was the CEO of their competitor. And he must have read our post on the core traits of successful thought leadership and paid very close attention to point #5 (be everywhere) because he definitely was EVERYWHERE.
So, think about it this way. Who else is finding those bylined articles?
When your potential customers are searching for those same keywords and they find 25+ articles across low, mid, and top tier media, what do they think?
What about the media, when they are searching for resources for a story?
What about investors, when they decide they are ready to get into that emerging industry and want to see who the big players are?
Reason #3: Fully Aligned Strategy!
As we get our clients set up for media interviews, most of them are nervous (even though they pretend not to be!).
We carefully brief them on the importance of circling back to core talking points because getting off topic can lead to an uncontrolled message that doesn’t align with overall strategy. This matters because when it comes to the average article, the amount of words you have to get your point across are EXTREMELY limited.
From a one-hour media interview, you’ll be lucky to have a few quotes, which leaves a lot of room for things to go wrong.
But when it comes to bylined content, you have the time to write a controlled message that is in complete alignment with your overall thought leadership strategy. More importantly, you have the ability to test your message and strategy — then, based on what you learn from the engagement of the post, you can make changes if needed.
Reason #4: No More Waiting!
Becoming a thought leader and securing media coverage takes a looooong time. It’s one of the top 7 reasons why becoming a thought leader is so damn hard.
The hardest part is to gain the initial momentum needed to break through. And we often see companies sitting around and waiting for their big news to hit or a journalist to cover them.
Good strategy: sit around and wait for things to come to you. Surely your competitors are doing the same thing?
Or are your competitors like the one we mentioned in Reason #2?
By being proactive with your thought leadership strategy, you can drastically decrease the amount of time it takes to gain momentum.
Reason #5: Relationship Building (Before You Need It!)
When it comes to interacting with the media, you want to begin building a relationship long before you’ll actually approach them with a story idea.
If you wait to begin building media relationships until the day of your “big news,” you’re going to be in big trouble.
By using bylined content, you can begin to build a relationship with an outlet before you want to ever be covered. When contributing bylined content, you begin the relationship on the right foot: you are adding value up front to them and asking nothing in return.
Instead of asking them to do you a favor and write an article about you, you begin by asking if you can help add value to their audience.
Regardless of the media outlet size, you can bet most of them are hungry for high quality content that engages their core target audience. They are running a business at the end of the day, which is entirely based on the amount of traffic they can bring in and the engagement of their readers.
Help them achieve their objectives and you’ll have a better chance that they’ll later help you achieve yours.
Reason #6: Build an Army (That Scales!)
In the past, thought leadership development was reserved for just CEOs and other top level executives. Today, companies are realizing that it’s now all about building an army.
A thought leadership army, to be exact.
Instead of just the CEO having content published, an entire team can create and publish regular content depending on their expertise.
Just one person will be limited to publishing 2-4 posts per month which can still add a lot of value. But what if you could have 25 byline articles going out each month?
And imagine if all those articles going out every month pointed back to one thing: your company. Imagine if you were researching a company to decide if you want to do business with them, and you find that not only is someone in their company an expert, their entire company is an expert, and they have the third-party credibility to back it up in the form of, you guessed it, byline content.