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The Thought Leadership PR Strategy: Rule Your Domain

Not all experts can also be thought leaders.

Cover photo: @jerrysilfwer

Thought lead­er­ship might be the right PR strategy for you.

What does thought lead­er­ship entail?
What does it take to become a thought lead­er?
What are the pros and cons of being a thought leader?

In this blog post, I’ll explore the prin­ciples of thought lead­er­ship as a PR strategy.

Here we go:

Being an Expert Makes You … an Expert

Being con­sidered a “thought lead­er” in your industry ought to sound appeal­ing to many driv­en pro­fes­sion­als with decent amounts of expert­ise with­in their fields. Some experts will go for the easy route by simply present­ing them­selves as such on social media. But, that’s a far cry from being con­sidered a thought lead­er by a com­munity of peers.

Being an expert is based on what you know. Being a thought lead­er is based on your status as a game-changer with­in your pro­fes­sion­al field. While all thought lead­ers are experts in some way or anoth­er, not all experts can be thought leaders.

All pro­fes­sion­al fields evolve over time. To be a thought lead­er, it’s not enough to reside at the fore­front of what’s going on in your industry. You must also be regarded as someone whose ideas con­stantly push your entire field’s evol­u­tion forward.

As such, thought lead­er­ship could be con­sidered a tall order.

An expert can always deep­en their expert­ise by acquir­ing more exist­ing know­ledge. A thought lead­er must cre­ate new knowledge.

Focus: New Ideas and Innovation

While thought lead­er­ship is a chal­len­ging PR strategy, it could also be seen as a major oppor­tun­ity. The dif­fi­culty level will make it almost impossible for com­pet­it­ors to suc­cess­fully chal­lenge your position.

Thought lead­er­ship, includ­ing PR, is a key strategy for build­ing trust in glob­al mar­kets, lead­ing to new products, mar­ket expan­sion, and com­pany profits.”
Source: Journal of Public Relations Research 1Bourne, C. (2015). Thought Leadership as a Trust Strategy in Global Markets: Goldman Sachs’ Promotion of the ‘BRICs’ in the Marketplace of Ideas. Journal of Public Relations Research, 27, 322 – … Continue read­ing

Thought lead­ers must con­tinu­ously probe exist­ing chal­lenges to find brand-new solu­tions. They must reshape cur­rent nar­rat­ives and reframe old prob­lems. They must always seek to destabil­ise the status quo. Their job is not to describe change but to be the change.

  • A thought lead­er is a vis­ion­ary with a curi­ous fol­low­ing and a bon­afide track record of always push­ing the envel­ope. There is a “before” the thought lead­er — and an “after.”

To be clear:
This isn’t a strategy for the faint of heart.

Please note: This strategy is “a step up” in dif­fi­culty com­pared to the Wisdom Whisperer PR Strategy.

Thought Leadership in PR

A PR strategy based on a thought lead­er­ship pro­gram must always adhere to these basic principles:

  • Embrace con­tinu­ous learn­ing. Stay per­petu­ally curi­ous and informed about the latest devel­op­ments in your field, under­stand­ing that true thought lead­er­ship requires lifelong learn­ing and adaptation.
  • Foster authen­ti­city. Be genu­ine in your com­mu­nic­a­tions and actions. Authenticity builds trust and cred­ib­il­ity, which is essen­tial for a thought leader.
  • Cultivate vis­ion­ary think­ing: Develop the abil­ity to fore­see and artic­u­late future trends and dir­ec­tions. A thought lead­er responds to cur­rent situ­ations and shapes future possibilities.
  • Encourage innov­a­tion. Push bound­ar­ies and chal­lenge con­ven­tion­al wis­dom. Innovate in thought and prac­tice, demon­strat­ing new ways to solve old problems.
  • Practice thought­ful com­mu­nic­a­tion. Articulate your ideas clearly and com­pel­lingly. Good ideas gain trac­tion when they are com­mu­nic­ated effectively.
  • Build a com­munity. Engage with oth­ers in your field and bey­ond. Thought lead­ers don’t oper­ate in a vacu­um; they cre­ate and nur­ture a com­munity of learners and followers.
  • Demonstrate integ­rity. Stand by your prin­ciples and val­ues, even when chal­lenged. Integrity is the corner­stone of respect and influ­ence.
  • Exhibit resi­li­ence. Face set­backs and cri­ti­cisms with a con­struct­ive mind­set. Thought lead­er­ship often involves chal­len­ging the status quo, which can invite resistance.
  • Provide ment­or­ship. Share your know­ledge and exper­i­ence with oth­ers. Thought lead­ers are also teach­ers who help oth­ers grow.
  • Lead by example. Be the embod­i­ment of your teach­ings. Your actions should con­sist­ently reflect your ideas and vision.

These prin­ciples not only define the eth­os of a thought lead­er but also serve as a guide for those aspir­ing to become influ­en­tial fig­ures in their respect­ive domains. 

Signature - Jerry Silfwer - Doctor Spin

Thanks for read­ing. Please con­sider shar­ing my pub­lic rela­tions blog with oth­er com­mu­nic­a­tion and mar­ket­ing pro­fes­sion­als. If you have ques­tions (or want to retain my PR ser­vices), please con­tact me at jerry@​spinfactory.​com.

PR Resource: More PR Strategies

PR Resource: Existentialism for PR Advisers

Soren Kierkegaard.
Fotografi efter bly­ant­stegn­ing ca. 1840 af Søren Kierkegaard. (Credit: Wikipedia)
Spin Academy | Online PR Courses

Existentialism: Thought Leadership, Advisory, and Education

Regarding thought lead­er­ship, advis­ory, and edu­ca­tion, I often remind myself of the beau­ti­ful words of the Danish exist­en­tial­ist Søren Kierkegaard (1813 – 1855): 2Søren Kierkegaard. (2023, November 27). In Wikipedia.

If one is truly to suc­ceed in lead­ing a per­son to a spe­cif­ic place, one must first and fore­most take care to find him where he is and begin there.

This is the secret in the entire art of help­ing.

Anyone who can­not do this is him­self under a delu­sion if he thinks he is able to help someone else. In order truly to help someone else, I must under­stand more than he — but cer­tainly first and fore­most under­stand what he under­stands.

If I do not do that, my great­er under­stand­ing does not help him. If I nev­er­the­less want to assert my great­er under­stand­ing, then it is because I am vain or proud, then basic­ally instead of bene­fit­ing him I really want to be admired by him.

But all true help­ing begins with a hum­bling.

The help­er must first humble him­self under the per­son he wants to help and thereby under­stand that to help is not to dom­in­ate but to serve, that to help is a not to be the most dom­in­at­ing but the most patient, that to help is a will­ing­ness for the time being to put up with being in the wrong and not under­stand­ing what the oth­er under­stands.”
— Søren Kierkegaard (1813 – 1855)

Servitude is the found­a­tion for suc­cess for all aspir­ing thought lead­ers, advisers, and educators.

Learn more: Existentialism for PR Advisers

💡 Subscribe and get a free ebook on how to get bet­ter PR ideas.

1 Bourne, C. (2015). Thought Leadership as a Trust Strategy in Global Markets: Goldman Sachs’ Promotion of the ‘BRICs’ in the Marketplace of Ideas. Journal of Public Relations Research, 27, 322 – 336. https://​doi​.org/​1​0​.​1​0​8​0​/​1​0​6​2​7​2​6​X​.​2​0​1​5​.​1​0​2​7​772
2 Søren Kierkegaard. (2023, November 27). In Wikipedia.
Jerry Silfwer
Jerry Silfwer
Jerry Silfwer, alias Doctor Spin, is an awarded senior adviser specialising in public relations and digital strategy. Currently CEO at Spin Factory and KIX Communication Index. Before that, he worked at Kaufmann, Whispr Group, Springtime PR, and Spotlight PR. Based in Stockholm, Sweden.

The Cover Photo

The cover photo isn't related to public relations; it's just a photo of mine. Think of it as a 'decorative diversion', a subtle reminder that there is more to life than strategic communication.

The cover photo has


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