Think Like a Thought Leader

by on April 2, 2020 in Leadership

Our high-speed, media-saturated digital world sometimes feels like a dense, dark jungle with huge shadowy trees and thick tangled vines that block out most of the sunlight and leave us in darkness.

Our job in public relations is to shine a light to cut through this darkness on behalf of our clients and highlight their work, their mission, and their values. In the health and science field, we have the ability–and the obligation–to raise our clients’ profile so that their key achievements and messages do not get lost in the information wilderness of social media.

“Thought Leadership” has become the mantra for this type of work. At The Reis Group, we represent a wide variety of clients who are doing cutting-edge work in specialized areas such as integrative health, epidemiology, pediatric health, Alzheimer’s prevention, cost containment, and much more. We can effectively promote the value of our clients’ work–if we do it the right way.

In the worlds of healthcare, science, and medicine, the key executives, scientists, and researchers have the ability to become recognized leaders in their fields through op-eds, broadcast appearances, speaking engagements, letters to the editor, and other opportunities. After 40 years working in the media, the last seven in public relations, here are a few of my tips on how to help make this happen.

Be ready to respond quickly: In the Twitter universe, the news is non-stop, so at any moment, we have to be poised to act immediately. For us, the COVID-19 pandemic is the most vivid recent example of the need to be constantly aware of how events move so rapidly that we must always be ready.

Be ready to respond smartly: We try to know all the potential outlets that might be interested in hearing from our leaders. Whether it’s a short, quick letter or a substantive commentary, we cultivate contacts with journalists and publishers who may be most receptive to our messages.

Know the message: Our clients have devoted their careers to representing specialized populations and the targeted audiences who care deeply about their issues. We have to be in a position to know how any breaking news event may relate to the specific topics that are our clients’ major areas of interest.

Know the messenger: Our leaders have carefully nuanced positions on issues. We need to talk with them as often as possible, interview them on major topics of the day whenever possible, and keep up on their published writing and research.

Speak in their voice, not yours: Our thought leaders are passionate about their issues and have distinct ways of expressing themselves on the most vital topics. We should be able to virtually memorize the language that they would use. Then, when the client sees the message that we are planning to put out, they feel that the voice is authentic.

This kind of work is competitive and difficult, but it’s definitely worth the planning and the effort.

Written By

Peter Perl

Peter Perl is a senior counselor at The Reis Group in Washington, DC, and serves as chief editor for all our healthcare PR and nonprofit clients.