Thought leadership has become such a shopworn concept in the public relations toolkit that it's in danger of losing its edge. While there is no shortage of self-styled "experts," developing true thought leadership is about more than winning media exposure-it's about the ideas you convey and put into action.

Why does thought leadership matter? Because it has a direct impact on your business's success. Especially in today's financial marketplace, competition is steep, public trust is low, and growth is not assured.
If you are a true recognized thought leader, key constituents rely on you to provide them with strategic insights, guidance on best practices, and professional counsel. When prospects and partners seek out your advice, you're a thought leader. More importantly, you have reached a new realm of potential in the marketplace.

How to develop thought leadership? First, understand what thought leadership is not.

Thought leadership is not your sales pitch. While your firm's value proposition may be unique, to translate into thought leadership it must reflect a vision that is bigger than your day-to-day business operations. Apple isn't a thought leader in assembling mobile devices, it's a thought leader in pro-consumer innovation.

In other words, thought leadership connects your business to a larger, distinctive point of view. To develop your firm's thought leadership, ask yourself if your point of view, vision or philosophy is:
    pioneering and innovative-pointing the industry in a new direction;
    forward-looking-ahead of the curve in what affects your constituents;
    relevant-addressing key opportunities, challenges, trends and dynamics. 

Well-executed thought leadership enables a business to safeguard and enhance its reputation while increasing brand recognition and strengthening stakeholder relationships. All of this sets a company apart in an increasingly competitive global market.

As you develop internal thought leadership, you can effectively begin to promote and leverage it. This is where strategic public relations makes a difference-prominent media coverage, public speaking engagements, content contributions, and so forth, all work to promote the creative thinking that your business represents. 

Finally, the best thought leaders not only share their own ideas, but inspire new ones. And that is what moving the needle is all about.