Eight Tips to Contributing Content and Becoming a Thought Leader
One of the trends I’m seeing in public relations is an increased need for and a greater opportunity to contribute content. In my industry this is significant as it provides new ways for PR pros to secure coverage for clients as well as to have clients educate the market on their industry and to be viewed as thought leaders.
If you’re going to contribute you have to be willing to do a few things. First and foremost, the content needs to be compelling and the writing needs to be of the highest quality. From there, if you’re going to write you need to be open to criticism, challenges from others with differing opinions and open to sharing your expertise and your own opinion.
A lot of people think it’s cool to blog or to see their names in a newspaper or magazine. Often people want this but don’t realize the commitment it takes or the confidence in your knowledge and expertise it takes to lay it all on the line and share for everybody to see. If you want to contribute, here are some steps to consider making it successful and gaining the full benefit the opportunity provides.
- Know the issues/trends, what makes it an issue or trend and what it means. By knowing the issues and trends you can establish yourself as a thought leader and demonstrate that you are an expert in your industry. Your understanding of key issues and an ability to discuss these issues will build credibility and help make you a trusted source for the media.
- Have an opinion and be willing to share it. There is a difference between knowing the issues and having an open and compelling conversation about them. If you know the issues but won’t talk about them, nobody will care how much you know. If you’re willing to discuss the issues and can add some expertise or some interesting insight into the topic people will listen and want to engage you in a discussion.
- Explore and consider both sides of the issue. It’s important to know and understand both sides of an issue. Most reporters will want to know what both sides are and will be interested in what your take is or what your argument is for a competitor or perceived competitor. If you can’t or don’t know the competition and what sets you apart you’ll have a difficult time convincing people to your way of thinking.
- Have a solution. If there is an issue or challenge you’re writing about, don’t be afraid to share your thoughts, ideas or expertise on how to solve the problem. It’s easy to simply point out or discuss the problem but another all together to provide a viable solution to the issue. In my opinion, when somebody just complains about an issue but can’t provide a solution or alternative approach it makes the issue worse and causes frustration. I compare this to a situation everybody has encountered at one time or another, lunch with a group of friends. One or two people will make a suggestion, the majority of the others will agree to it, but one or two friends will not like the suggestion. Those one or two people who don’t like the suggestions are happy to share their dislike or disregard for the restaurant choice but offer no solution or alternative. Don’t be the person that simply complains. If you don’t like something, have a solution or alternative recommendation.
- Practice. The more you write the easier it becomes. A good writer is always on the look out for potential topics and is thinking about the next article. The more you write the quicker you’ll be able to discover your own style and your own voice.
- Read other good writers. Years ago at a PR conference, a former editor recommended attendees find other good writers or other publications that are well written and follow/read them. She had a list of five or six publications she read daily, weekly or monthly depending on the outlet and frequency. Some were publications that she had no interest in, such as Sports Illustrated. In the case of Sports Illustrated she read it simple because the writing was so good. Her theory, and I agree with this, is that you can learn a lot by absorbing and reading other well-written content. It rubs off and you become a better writer through osmosis.
- Set aside time to actually write. I know a lot of people that want to be recognized as a contributor or blogger. It takes time and discipline to write on a regular basis. The more you write though, the easier it becomes and the quicker you become. When you start blogging or writing, set aside time each day to write. Keep to that schedule. Consistency is critical when first starting to write. It’s easy to become discouraged with the amount of time it may take but if you set time aside every day it will quickly become a habit and will be easier and take less time to write.
- Find a trusted editor. Every writer should have somebody they trust read their writing. This person should be somebody that has your best interest at heart and isn’t afraid to be honest and give feedback about the quality of your content. Most of the time, my wife is my editor. She’s smart, articulate, understands editing and isn’t afraid to challenge me, ask questions or flat out tell me if something is poorly written or doesn’t make sense.
Opportunities abound to contribute content. If you get the opportunity to contribute content it can pay dividends to our business and to your own personal brand. However, if you commit to doing it, you need to do it well so you can build confidence with the publication or editor and establish yourself as a thought leader and an expert in your industry.
Author: Jeremy Kartchner | Google+