Four Tips for Driving Thought Leadership & Executive Branding


Implementing a long-term, strategic media outreach plan can be hugely beneficial for executives who have unique experience, expertise or points of view within their industry.

Susannah Griffiths, VP Marketing and PR

While thought leadership and executive branding through media outreach is not a new marketing tactic, it is an opportunity that often goes overlooked by brands and businesses, both small and large. Whether it’s due to the fact that internal marketing teams are so busy supporting the day-to-day running of the business, or because executive leadership are focused on high-level sales strategies and programs, thought leadership through media outreach is how business leaders and companies can further help position themselves as leaders in their space and a go-to resource for targeted media outlets.

When speaking to our clients, many say the idea of thought leadership sounds daunting, but it can actually be very simple to create and execute. Implementing a long-term, strategic media outreach plan can be hugely beneficial for executives who have unique experience, expertise or points of view within their industry. So what to consider to get started? When embarking on creating a strategic thought leadership program for your business, there are four important steps to keep in mind to ensure success.

Find the Right Spokesperson for your Brand

Within an organization, there are often several strong options for executives or leadership to be the “face” of your brand or organization. Quite often, brands turn to their CMO to fill this role, as more often than not CMO’s are media trained and have a strong sense of the brand’s products and messaging. Other times a CEO is put in the hot seat to interact with media. Either way, it’s important to keep in mind that anyone who plays a leadership role within an organization can and should be a fit for this role. In addition, it’s critical to ensure your brand representative is a subject matter expert who is not only knowledgeable in their space and media trained, but also comfortable speaking to media or other executives.

Create Content that Resonates

Content is still king, but only if you know how to get that content seen by your industry peers and target customers. So how do you create content that resonates with editors and cuts above the clutter? Editors receive multiple email pitches daily, and rarely want to be called, so you have one chance, at most two, to capture their attention. Choose topics and story ideas that are not currently being discussed by your peers or other publications, but are on the cutting edge of the industry. Ask yourself, what’s the next big thing my industry will be focused on/talking about/doing? And how can we as industry experts position ourselves as leaders on this topic? Having a unique angle and story idea will help position your brand as an important resource for members of the media.

Know Who You Are Targeting

There’s nothing editors dislike more than being pitched a story idea or topic that is not in line with the beat they cover. Using a public relations and social software resource such as Cision, it’s easy to put together highly targeted media lists based on outlet type, subject matter, beat, demographic, etc. Once you have a list in place, be sure to research how each editor prefers to be contacted, and familiarize yourself with past articles and blogs they’ve written to better understand what types of stories they cover. Again, you only have one chance to cut through the clutter, so knowing as much as possible about each editor and outlet, and leveraging this knowledge to personalize your pitch email, will drastically increase your chances of getting a response.

Be Part of the Conversation Before You Pitch

Before reaching out to members of the media, there are ways to begin to develop content that will help lay the groundwork for your media outreach. For example, tapping a question and answer site like Quora, which has over 100 million monthly visitors, allows anyone – from consumers to industry experts – to respond to questions on the site. Research topics on the site that are in line with current topics within your industry, and publish responses that showcases your expertise on the subject matter. These responses are then published and can be used as a resource or talking point for media. It’s also beneficial to leverage case studies or white papers that live on your company’s website, blog or newsletter that can be shared with media and help visually paint a picture of your story in a easy to digest format.

Keeping these four tips in mind when developing your overall media outreach plan will greatly increase your chances of being covered by key media outlets, and will help position your organization and leadership team as an important resource for media now and in the future. And while media outreach is a strong marketing tactic that can stand on its own, it’s even stronger when folded into a brand’s holistic marketing campaign.

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