Ever wonder why some business leaders are able to have their views shared but you miss out on the media attention? The answer lies in being able to find, articulate and share your opinions and experience. Having thought leadership published is a powerful way to establish your subject matter expertise and credibility.

Learning how to write compelling opinion pieces, and getting them published in mainstream media outlets, should be a critical part of your PR strategy. To achieve success, you need to understand what thought leadership is and what it is not.

Journalists report the news and they track the developments of breaking stories. Thought leadership is about providing an expert opinion – emphasis on having an opinion and a view for instance how to do things better, gaps that people are overlooking/not considering or how to style advice for example top three tips. The opinion shouldn’t be thinly veiled as don’t use them, use us we are better!

It should be agnostic and objective advice explaining best practice and sharing your knowledge gained through many years of industry experience. The media will not run opinion pieces that are blatantly promotional and self-serving.

1 – What goes into thought leadership?

Opinion pieces don’t need lots of background and a summary of facts – remember journalists cover that. What you are writing is your opinion or best practice advice. Make sure you convey that in the headline and the first paragraph and then explain it. Opinion pieces should be around 500-700 words. They need to be punchy, topical, relevant and engaging.

2 – Thought leadership is not advertising or marketing

Thought leadership is about thought and leadership – it is not about marketing or advertising. The value – AND you must understand this – is having your company name in the by-line. If you want to plug your business in the article, then buy sponsored content or use your blog and social channels.

3 – Know the audience

Read the media outlets that you hope to get published in – not all run opinion pieces. If they do, read them. What style do they like? Do they usually run informative articles like “5 ways to save your small business time at tax time?” Or do they prefer a strong or controversial opinion?

4 – Don’t ambulance chase

Taking advantage of someone else’s misfortune makes you look like an opportunist rather than a credible source of information.

5 – Don’t attack your competition

Don’t jump all over a competitor in an opinion piece, remember if you attack them and you make a mistake, they’ll attack you back. Plus, how does it look to your customers if you engage in cheap shots? Think carefully about the positioning.

Writing thought leadership for media success is an art. It’s probably unlike any other type of writing you’ve done. Think about getting expert help to hone in on the angle that will work and to write it in the style a media outlet will accept.