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 on cultivating one over the other.
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 in the market. To that end, she co-authored the first book of practical advice for early to mid-career PR pros on what it takes to contribute, grow and thrive in a PR agency.
With a single pitch, the text was placed with top choice publishing house, Routledge (owned by Taylor & Francis), the largest academic publisher 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 media outlets leading to Bulldog Reporter, MuckRack, and PR Moment requesting contributed articles on topics related to the book. All three publications asked for follow-on contributions and Bulldog Reporter also asked for a standalone webinar (attended by 115+ professionals) and for Shalon to participate in their first 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 recommended reading list.
This continued momentum led to PRWeek inviting Shalon to contribute to its new bi-weekly healthcare bulletin and for comment on 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 PR-it, no SEO, and no advertising, the influence Shalon build through thought leadership enabled her to attract and win PR-it’s first 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-focused media outlets across the US and UK, speak at industry events, and contribute to PR text books.