Your team has developed a thoughtful, smart, and strategic thought leadership plan but has anyone rehearsed and discussed it with the company spokesperson? Are they prepared? These are very important questions which entails a great deal of preparation.
A thought leadership plan may entail topics for bylined articles authored by the spokesperson, panels he/she can sit on at various reputable industry conferences, awards to submit, and media relations where they can be interviewed on important industry topics.
Once the plan falls into place, a spokesperson’s knowledge and comfortability on the topics, their public speaking ability, and personality all play into the equation. In other words, the team has a kick-ass plan, but it could mean nothing if the execution doesn’t go well.
Here are a few tips to keep in mind to help prepare:
- To ensure the team and spokesperson is prepared to roll out this thought leadership plan, ensure they are fully prepped. Do a mock interview with them with someone playing the role of a reporter or moderator. Ask them questions that could come up during a media interview or on a panel at a conference. Make sure they have the company’s key messages weaved into their answers just right, so it doesn’t appear like a commercial, and they speak clearly, accurately, and professionally. It’s a good idea to record the session as well and play it back for them to learn from any mistakes.
- Appearance is important as well, especially since everything is displayed and repurposed on social media. You will want the spokesperson to reflect the brand as much as possible. A cannabis brand may have a spokesperson who can wear jeans to a certain interview while a top healthcare executive may be best wearing a suit and tie. They should always be polished and professional despite the industry and fully prepared whether it’s a podcast or CNBC interview.
- A company may have several spokespeople so its important to determine the expertise of each and execute accordingly. If a company has a strong technology component, there may be a primary company spokesperson who can speak to the brand, operations, and growth strategies, while a technology spokesperson can walk someone through all the technicalities, how it was built and why.
- For internal purposes, you will also want to establish a protocol for executing certain areas of the plan. For example, if you secure bylined articles, who will develop the outlines and ghostwrite the articles? Is that person well-versed on the topics and industry? If a spokesperson is chosen to speak at a conference, who will help develop talking points for him/her? Identifying the team and everyone’s roles upfront is important to the success of the plan and can eliminate a great deal of stress that could occur during intense moments.
Thought leadership is a critical communications strategy to help brands and their spokespeople reach their audience, increase visibility, and gain credibility – so winging it is not the best course of action. Make sure you have a strong communications team in place – all of which have set roles within their respective areas of expertise, from content development to PR and media, to logistics.