Here's a myth that I want to bust once and for all: effective technology thought leadership is all about securing as much coverage as possible in high-profile and well-known publications.
Nope. Not at all.
This thinking is particularly endemic in the tech start-up sector and entrepreneurial ecosystem, where you frequently see founders chasing coverage in TechCrunch and inclusion in the Forbes 30 Under 30 lists as an end in themselves.
Now, don't get me wrong, I recognise the value of high-profile coverage. I also recognise the allure of being included in leagues of the most important (or most high-potential) people in a sector, although that can be a mixed blessing as well.
Plus, I understand why clients want to be covered in Forbes: it has a powerful, influential, and credible business brand that people want to be associated with.
But, if you think that's the same as effective and worthwhile technology thought leadership, I think you're really missing the point.
Technology thought leadership is not about stuffing your CV with a mishmash of credentials, so that you batter your audience – whether it's investors, customers, or new recruits – into submission with how impressive you are as an entrepreneur.
Instead, it's about showcasing the depth, range, and independence of your thinking in your sector. It's about positioning you as someone with a distinctive, unique, and compelling point of view, which puts you in a strong place to disrupt the sector.
Or, to put it another way, it's not about battering them into submission with coverage – but helping them come to their own conclusions about your credibility as an important and worthwhile voice having read your content.
This is especially true in the technology sector: our own research has shown that companies with visible and well-known leaders, such as founders and CEOs, attract more investment.
But, again, at risk of repeating myself, that is not because these founders have secured more coverage.
Instead, it's because these people have ideas that are worthy of discussion and debate, which has deepened their reputation as individuals who are in a position to challenge conventional wisdom, embrace new approaches, and even throw out old business models to invent new ones.
So, approaching a thought leadership campaign through the lens of 'how much coverage can you generate?' or 'how can you get me into Forbes ASAP?', misses the important step of crafting something for you to say in the first place.
Now, of course, you might find some shaky agencies around the world who will sell themselves on the basis of guaranteeing you coverage in Forbes, Entrepreneur, Inc, and similar titles.
In fact, in my career, I have come across some agencies that even suggest that they can do this on a pay-to-play basis: where you pay them a certain amount of money to get a reference on certain publications. Yikes.
But, what's the point of being referenced in a brand-name publication if you have nothing to say? Sure, you can impress your contacts and put a logo on your website, but I think the 'Return on Investment' for you will be marginal.
Soon enough, the endorphin rush of being named in the article will dissipate and, a little bit longer after that, the article will get sucked into the black hole of Google for no one to read ever again.
Even worse, if you're just racing for coverage in big-name publications, the agency might have used underhand and improper techniques to have injected you into the article, such as calling in a favour or even paying for coverage. Legitimate, mainstream journalists do not engage in this type of activity, but it has been known to happen on the fringes of PR.
But, even worse, you are short-changing yourself by succumbing to this approach: it means that your views, opinions, and thought-leadership were never actually newsworthy in the first place.
It also means that your ideas weren't interrogated by a journalist, which usually strengthens your ideas and forces you to reply to justified counterarguments.
The result? A lazy reference to you with a generic quote halfway down an article that does not enhance your profile, reputation, or standing. In fact, it may harm it.
So, what's the alternative? I would much rather have secured you a piece of feature-length coverage in a respected trade fintech, healthtech, or proptech title where you had the space and scope to lay out your thoughts at length, and have them interrogated properly by a journalist in an interview format.
Readers can smell a piece of genuine editorial coverage versus a puff piece – and you will actually get a lot more credit, respect, and influence in an industry if you put your head above the parapet properly.
One of the biggest lessons I have learned over the last decade in the industry is that there are no shortcuts and if you think you've found one, it's best for you to take a look again.
If you want to be a thought leader in technology, it requires you having genuinely distinctive and valuable opinions that shed new insight on your industry – and, usually, those insights are better discussed in specialist sector-led press, where they will be interrogated and debated.
Please, don't chase mass media mentions. There is no point. And it gives the PR industry a bad name.
Want to launch a technology thought leadership PR campaign? Read more about our thought leadership PR services, and how we can support you
Technology thought leadership is the process of showcasing your expertise as a company or individual on technology topics through the creation of insight-driven content. In practice, this will involve producing articles, research, videos, podcasts, and media coverage that demonstrates your expertise on technological topics.
Technology thought leadership is an important and valuable way to position your company, start-up, or executive team members as a genuine leading thinkers on technology topics, whether that's fintech, proptech, healthtech, or something else. Companies that are recognised thought leaders in their sector grow faster, recruit better, and even command higher company valuations.
You can run a technology thought leadership campaign yourself, however may people prefer you use specialist agencies. On one hand, this is because running a thought leadership campaign can be exhausting and resource intensive, as it requires regularly creating and promoting new content. On the other hand, many agencies retain a specialist thought leadership agency because they are able to achieve better results using their experience and track-record.
A cost of a technology thought leadership campaign will very much depend on the intensity and scope of the project, but generally our services start from £4,500 ($6,750) per month. If you would like a no-obligation quote, please book a call with our specialist team.