Thought leadership has become a buzzword in recent years. It’s often a term thrown around as many companies look to build thought leaders within their organizations. It’s not only the individual who benefits from thought leadership, but the companies behind them. Thought leaders can provide a platform and raise visibility for their company to create new opportunities and even drive business.

Yes, they are go-to experts in their fields, but there is so much more to it. Thought leaders need to not only understand the business they are in and have credible opinions, but they need to challenge the status quo, be inspirational and be viewed as a trusted source.

In taking a step back, it’s important to consider these four factors when evaluating and building a thought leader within your organization.

It’s not just a one and done

Yes, thought leaders are effective communicators who serve as an engaging resource. However, not everyone is cut out to be a thought leader. Some just don’t have the time or inclination. Others may want to steer clear of making any potentially controversial comments. But perhaps the biggest deterrent is that it can’t just be a one and done.

Being a thought leader is a serious investment that requires a lot of time and energy. Thought leadership requires a regular cadence to help stay top of mind. Every post also allows thought leaders to apply their topics to new ‘what if’ scenarios, or allow them to pivot as new developments transpire in surrounding industries or current events. That commitment to establishing a regular cadence should not be undertaken lightly.

Combine credibility, trustworthiness and quality of content

There is no denying credibility is important for a thought leader to possess. They typically have had some degree of success over their careers turning innovative ideas and opinions into reality. This in turn helps give them a credible foundation to begin with and makes people want to follow them. But, this will only get them so far. Equally important is the quality of content developed and trustworthiness.

Thought leaders are helping and supporting others by sharing experiences and knowledge. This allows the reader to view the thought leader as a trustworthy authority figure to turn to when they need advice or guidance, which has the potential to drive traffic to their company’s website, boost sales, etc.

Likewise, the content developed needs to push the envelope and put themselves out there. In doing so, it’s important to remember that it’s OK to be wrong. After all, everyone would be thought leaders if it were that easy to predict the future.

At the end of the day, not one, but the combination of these three traits will fuel a thought leader’s success.

Have something relevant to say

The ability to provide fresh or new perspectives on topics while also knowing what’s already being said is key. It goes without saying, but coming out with a strong stance on a topic only to find out it’s already been put to rest is not ideal. Put simply, thought leaders need to do their homework.

While this can seem like a daunting task, thought leaders don’t have to inspire everyone – only those who matter to them and have influence in their markets. The initial step is to identify where those target audiences are and where to place your content to keep those influencers more informed. This is only one of the areas where a PR agency comes into play.

Leverage your PR agency

A PR agency can make a big difference in helping get the word out and drive awareness and engagement, regardless of the company’s size.

From press interviews to bylines, podcasts to social media, a PR agency can go a long way to getting thought leaders in front of the right audiences, on various relevant platforms and at a regular frequency. Speaking submissions, industry events and award recognitions also help build credibility and recognition, while putting thought leaders in front of a new target audience.

These ideas are only scratching the surface, but a good start that will help set up a successful thought leadership campaign.