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How to write a thought leadership article

There are many different ways to become a thought leader within your field. Everything from video, and podcasting to your more traditional articles and speaking events can be utilised in order to elevate your position among your professional peers.

Recently, we outlined what thought leaders do and how you can become one. Well, now it’s time to put all of that planning into action. We’re going to give you the guide to writing your thought leadership articles in five easy-to-follow- steps.

Decide what you’re contributing to the topic

During your initial planning process, you should have already decided on your specialist subject and talking points, so try to not to stray away from them as they’re what will help you to focus and develop your position on what you become known for.   

This is a good place to start, however, before you get started on writing your piece, also be sure to have a clear stance in mind. What are you trying to communicate? What value are you adding to the topic you’re writing about? Is it useful for your readers? These are all questions you need to be asking yourself before putting pen to paper – or, fingers to your keyboard.

Research and data are your best friends

To truly be a thought leader within your chosen topic or field, you should be constantly keeping up-to-date with all news, developments and challenges surrounding your field of interest. It’s this research and expertise that needs to be applied when writing your content pieces.

Embedding snippets of data and examples into your piece not only backs up what you’re writing but it also shows the reader that you have an in-depth awareness and understanding of the topic or field. And with 71% of decision makers stating that less than half of the thought leadership content they consume gives them valuable insight, there is clearly a gap in the thought leadership market that can be nurtured by the right people.

Incorporating not only your expert knowledge but your understanding of the specifics in various scenarios will deepen the readers view that you can be their trusted source for information on the subject.

Real life applications

The most effective content should be easy to relate to. It’s for this very reason that when you’re planning your thought leadership article, be sure to relate to reality in some way. What we mean by this is that if your article can include an actual scenario or example that your target audience faces, then they are more likely to understand and engage with the piece. More than 50% of people have placed importance on the ability to explore more focused industry topics and news that isn’t covered in mainstream media.

Equally, be as topical as you can within your thought leadership content. If there is a major event, piece of news or problem that has recently arisen within your field, then try to use this – but with care  – you don’t want to be the last person joining the conversation, however you also don’t want to be someone who has nothing worthwhile to add about it.

The speakers on Ted Talks will use detailed life/industry experiences, data and topical news to relate to their vast professional audience. Specifically, well-known speaker, Simon Sinek, uses this cocktail of knowledge, data and storytelling to captivate and educate his audience – and this is something that we should all practice applying to our content.

Words matter

Ultimately, the way you formulate your words is going to make or break the whole piece. Readers want information and value-add without losing interest halfway through! Storytelling is such a vital element of thought leadership and while it may take some practice, it’s a skill worth honing if you’re going to regularly put content into the public domain.

While it may be tempting to just place all your thoughts and opinions into an article and hit publish, it will only come back and bite you in the end. Take a moment to think how your readers will digest the information you’re giving them, and how they can further engage with the piece. Then, once you’ve found a flow that works for both you and your audience, you can have fun with it.

Not everything is a sales opportunity

While you may feel your piece is a prime opportunity to shamelessly plug your company’s products or services, this can cause people to click away from your content. Compelling thought leadership articles are the wrong place to be heavily self-promotional as it takes away from the central subject of the piece and gives the impression of vanity rather than expertise.

If you are going to include your products or services within the article, then really think firstly, if including them adds any kind of value to the piece. If so, then think about how to weave it in subtly.

For example, in multiple pieces for our client, MSA Safety, we will use a product of theirs as an answer to a situation we have highlighted earlier in the piece. Removing the sales jargon and just it simply stating it as a potential solution to an industry-specific issue.

Clear’s Conclusion

Overall, the thought leadership journey is one that may seem long but in the end is worth the time you put into it. Top quality content is such an important aspect of becoming a thought leader so it shouldn’t be rushed.

Equally, like all skills, once you begin to build on it, it will become second nature, and you’ll find ever more opportunities to be creative in conveying your thoughts and opinions to your audience - and with quality content, you’ll start to earn more of their trust and loyalty.

If you’re looking for help with your thought leadership content, we’ve got a team who are perfectly equipped to help you. Contact Rachel Arquati at r.arquati@clearb2b.com for more information.

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