While there’s a difference between being “influential” (creating impact) and being an “influencer” (building a following in a niche), both can contribute to thought leadership by establishing credibility and increasing visibility. Depending on one’s business objectives, it may be more advantageous to focus communications to cultivate one over the other (e.g. building brand awareness, attracting clients, etc).
In the case of PR-it’s founder, Shalon, she wanted to contribute to the public relations industry in a meaningful way whilst establishing credibility to help PR-it gain traction as a healthcare communications agency despite its modern virtual PR agency business model. To that end, she co-authored, How to Succeed in a PR Agency: Real Talk to Grow Your Career & Become Indispensable, the first book of practical advice for early to mid-career PR pros on what it takes to work, grow and thrive in any great PR agency.
With a single pitch, the manuscript was placed with top choice publishing house, Routledge (owned by Taylor & Francis), the largest academic publishing company globally.
Establishing thought leadership as an “influential” or “influencer” takes a lot of work and time, especially if choosing to publish a book as a campaign anchor to establish credibility. However, once a thought leadership campaign gains traction, its momentum produces increasingly more opportunities as it has done for Shalon.
Shalon’s book launch was pitched to a handful of PR industry media outlets leading to Bulldog Reporter, MuckRack, and PR Moment requesting contributed articles on topics related to her PR book. All three publications asked for follow-on contributions and Bulldog Reporter also asked for a standalone webinar (attended by 115+ communications professionals) and for Shalon to participate in its first earned media relations summit as a panellist (1700 attendees).
The guest blog posts and events were promoted across the media outlets’ social channels increasing Shalon’s credibility and visibility. This increased visibility led to the editor of PR Place posting a full book review which led to industry influencer, Judy Gombita of blog, PR Conversations, recommending the book to the Public Relations and Communications Association (PRCA) on Twitter. PRCA, an umbrella organisation for 40 PR associations worldwide with a membership of 30K practioners, added the book to its great recommended reading list.
This continued momentum led to PRWeek inviting Shalon to contribute to its new bi-weekly healthcare communications bulletin and for comment on healthcare PR industry topics including the anti-vax movement. In addition to the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) inviting Shalon to lead a panel at their 2019 annual tri-state conference in New York City and contribute multiple articles to their Strategies & Tactics newsletter and PRsay blog.
Despite having a limited social media presence for herself and company, little SEO help, and no advertising, the influence Shalon built through thought leadership enabled her to attract and win PR-it’s first healthcare, pharmaceutical, and professional services clients.
Shortly after publication, Shalon’s book received the accolade of “Most Outstanding Professional Book” across Taylor & Francis’ humanities and media arts titles, globally.
Following the 2018 thought leadership campaign, Shalon is still regularly asked to contribute to PR industry media outlets across the US and UK and speak at industry events about various PR topics including healthcare PR, healthcare communications, healthcare marketing, PR measurement, and earned media.