Is Madonna a thought leader?

Twelve celebrates 25 years of being in business in 2021.  To mark the occasion, we’ve produced a desk calendar with a quote each month that touches on a different aspect of communication.  

January’s topic is ‘Thought Leadership’ and the accompanying quote is from Madonna: “Listen, everyone is entitled to my opinion.”  She also famously said “Now that I’ve got everyone’s attention, what do I want to say?”

Madonna pop singer

I’d like to explore the subject of thought leadership by asking three questions:

  1. Why is thought leadership such an enduring concept in public relations?
  2. Is Madonna a thought leader?
  3. What are the key steps to an effective thought leadership strategy?

First question, ‘Why is thought leadership such an enduring concept in public relations?’

Answer, because it is a very effective way to achieve earned media coverage, coverage which helps open doors to new business or clinch deals. Earned coverage plays a crucial role in building trust and supporting SEO, both of which, again, help win or retain business.

You can read about the role of earned coverage in supporting domain authority in our blog post ‘Digital or PR agency? . It describes the ‘human tests’ used by Google to check the reliability of its algorithms, and you can see a good example of effective earned coverage for our client Altelium in The Guardian.

Second question, ‘Is Madonna a thought leader?’

Most people in PR would probably describe her as an ‘influencer’ rather than a thought leader, and this distinction is useful in understanding what makes a thought leader.

Often it depends on context, for example Madonna would certainly be considered a thought leader on how to develop a brand image or sell music, but this tends not to be the subjects she offers her opinions on.

Thought leadership is used to shape business campaigns. Influencers tend to be used for consumer campaigns, but actually where do you draw the line? Who or what influences your shopping habits and behaviour patterns?  Is Donald Trump a thought leader? How about Greta Thunberg?

A thought leader is anyone who has experience, ideas or success that people want to hear about and whose opinions and expertise might interest or influence others.

This is why a good thought leadership campaign is an artform because it is a question of understanding your audience and their needs and interests, as much as it is understanding products, business solutions or science.

Third question, ‘What are the key steps to an effective thought leadership campaign?

Working with an agency, the key stages in developing an effective thought leadership strategy include:

  • Identifying areas of expertise and opinion
  • Compiling a timeline of industry events and high impact occasions
  • Reviewing media channels and audience
  • Developing your tone of voice and approach
  • Preparing well written, insightful material

None of these steps however will be effective if your communication isn’t timely, and this is very much a two-way process. An effective thought leadership campaign requires a close and responsive relationship between the client and agency.

You don’t have to be a celebrity to be have views and opinions which people will be interested in,  but you may need help to get your opinions or expertise noticed in our noisy world.

At Twelve we have twenty-five years of experience to offer, so if you’re looking for help promoting yourself, your business or your brand, please get in touch.

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