The Definitive Guide to Executive Thought Leadership in 2024

Female executive being interviewed for a podcast.

By Madeline Kalicka, Account Director, Karbo Communications

To cut through the noise of the ever rotating news cycle, cutting edge product launches and company news, it is important that the executive spokespeople, also known as “faces of the company,” have strategic thought leadership campaigns running on an ongoing basis. A successful thought leadership campaign will lend itself to unquestioned market authority and recognition, while tangentially boosting your company by proxy. What’s more, thought leadership elevates an executive’s profile, emphasizes their areas of passion, and humanizes brands by highlighting the voices and brilliant minds behind today’s most innovative companies.

This blog will outline key considerations for building and maintaining a strong thought leadership presence – read on to learn more:


Identify areas of interest

The first step to creating a thought leadership campaign is to zero in on your thought leader’s areas of expertise and interest. It is important to align with executives on the topics they are comfortable (and hopefully eager) to discuss with reporters. Bonus points if they can offer a unique or contrary perspective or timely insight that reflects the current news cycle. Topics of interest typically lie somewhere within the technological areas and verticals of their company, but can expand to personal interest as well. 

Sometimes, it’s both! Karbo Com worked with an executive who held unique expertise on edtech marketing and also had a passion for extreme sports. We worked the two into a thought leadership byline, Agile Marketing Lessons Learned from Off-Road Racing, that clearly demonstrated the expertise and actionable takeaways about marketing for the edtech sector, but also gave some flavor to what kind of person our executive is and what really gets her blood pumping. This helped to develop a strong personal brand and differentiated her from the pack, in turn reflecting positively on the company she worked for.


Why it’s important to stay vendor-neutral (there’s a time and a place to be promotional)

Critically important to a successful thought leadership campaign is knowing when to remain vendor neutral and when it’s appropriate to promote your product or company. It’s strongly advised that thought leadership campaigns are vendor-neutral when showcasing the expertise of your spokesperson on a variety of topics or verticals. Most reporters will not be inclined to publish a quote or feature your thought leaders in an article if they’re constantly peppering in promotional details about your company or product. There is a time and a place for company and product coverage, but building an executive’s personal brand and demonstrating their knowledge of the market while providing thoughtful commentary on a trend is not the place for it. Thought leadership campaigns are a great way for executives to branch out from their company narrative and let them address the challenges and forward-looking opportunities that impact their market.  


Keep it interesting by diversifying thought leadership content

There are many great options for how an executive can showcase their thought leadership. From being quoted in an article, to recording a podcast, writing a contributed byline, providing expert commentary on breaking news and even posting meaningful content on LinkedIn – all are viable ways to maintain authority on the market as a thought leader. In diversifying where thought leadership content appears, you can expand audience reach. Try not to lean too far in one direction as a balance of quoted commentary, podcast spots, contributed bylines and broadcast will yield the strongest mix of readers/listeners.

A great option to ensure a steady cadence of thought leadership content is to encourage executives to join a council, like the Forbes Technology Council, or become a dedicated guest contributor to a reputable publication, and publish bylines on a regular cadence. This allows you the flexibility of submitting articles for publication on your own timeline in addition to showcasing creativity around a set of contributor guidelines for publication.

As with any media coverage, it’s encouraged to promote your published pieces on executive’s personal social channels for higher visibility among their personal and professional networks, along with the audience of whatever platform they’ve been featured on.


Secure placements in publications that are relevant for your target audience

This one may seem obvious, but it’s important to know your target audience and understand what publications they read and trust. There would be little impact to a thought leadership campaign if you’re not reaching the correct target audience. When evaluating possible opportunities, your agency will audit media kits, analyze the target audience and ensure the proper fit. 

Reaching the right target audience can be beneficial for future networking opportunities and also for overall brand visibility and association with certain technologies or focus areas. Additionally, being featured on target platforms can have a positive impact on SEO for your company website or personal LinkedIn page as there can be opportunity for backlinking, ultimately making it easier for your target audience to find you and your company with a Google search. 


Longevity of thought leadership

Building a thought leadership campaign that flourishes over time is a marathon, not a sprint. As with the regular news cycle, a thought leadership campaign will ebb and flow. Remember to tackle opportunities that are within your executives’ areas of expertise, with reputable publications and platforms and those that will reach your target audience.

As your company’s executives build credibility and domain expertise, more opportunities are bound to present themselves. It’s a snowball effect that our teams at Karbo Com have seen time and time again. 

 

Interested in learning how Karbo Communications can build a successful thought leadership campaign for your executives? Reach out to our team at info@karbocom.com

 

 

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