Becoming a Thought Leader: The Convergence of Marketing and PR

October 1st, 2014
Visible Expert Thought Leader PR Marketing Hinge BurrellesLuce Media Monitoring PR Software press clipping

flickr user Alex Gonzalez under CC BY

by Lee Frederiksen*

Your marketing and public relations departments tend to function best when they work in harmony. Marketing strategies help build the necessary foundation to create quality relationships. And when you then take the time to nurture those relationships, it can have a positive effect on the reputation of your firm and how your marketing is received. Both marketing and PR are important to the growth of your business, so how can you simplify the process of them working together?

Our latest research and newly published book suggests that creating industry thought leaders, or Visible Experts, can provide significant benefits for both your marketing and PR departments. We interviewed 130 Visible Experts and 1,028 purchasers of expert services to further understand why these individuals are important and what tools they’re using to generate more leads.

3 Benefits of Having Thought Leaders in Your Firm

While the advantages of having a thought leader on staff go well beyond just three, these were the main benefits that the experts in our research identified about themselves.

1. Brand Building. Of all the Visible Experts we interviewed, 62 percent identified brand building as one of their most significant contributions. Firms that employ well-known experts on staff enjoy a better reputation and increase in brand awareness within their industry.

2. Growth and Business Development. An even greater percentage (66 percent) of respondents listed growth and business development as key benefits they bring to their firms. Through their ability to reach a wider audience, Visible Experts help to generate more leads and improve their firm’s reputation in the marketplace. This increased visibility helps firms close more sales and command higher prices.

3. Multiple Channels for Lead Generation. Thanks to their prominence, thought leaders have access to lead generation opportunities that reach extensive audiences, such as speaking engagements and major publications. Almost all of the experts interviewed regularly reap the benefits of more than one method of lead generation.

What Marketing and PR Tools Do Visible Experts Use?

In addition to understanding the impact that Visible Experts have on their firms, we also studied the tools they use to become more visible and reputable to their target audiences. Through our research, we found that the most successful industry experts use a combination of traditional PR tactics and modern marketing.

The most impactful tools and techniques that Visible Experts use are:

Visible Experts PR MArketing Thought Leader BurrellesLuce Hinge Marketing Media Monitoring Public Relations PR software press clipping

Through this list, we can see the need for rising thought leaders to expand their platform across multiple avenues. Books might be difficult and more time consuming to produce, but they provide the biggest impact. Traditional PR tactics like appearing at speaking engagements and writing articles are still important to the development of Visible Experts, despite the growing importance of modern online methods, like content marketing and producing blog posts.

In addition the greatest impact, we also wanted to know which tools thought leaders rely on to increase their visibility, that also have the greatest return on effort (ROE). Though the lists were similar, there were some surprises:

  1. Books
  2. Online video
  3. Blog posts
  4. Featured news articles
  5. Keynote addresses

Again, we see a good mix of traditional and modern methods, with online video joining the ranks. News articles climbed a few spots from our previous list, showing the importance of traditional media in promoting recognizable expertise. On both lists, writing a book tops the rankings making it not only the most impactful, but also the tool with the greatest ROE.

Becoming a Thought Leader

With the widespread benefits that Visible Experts bring to their firms, consider developing one within your ranks or becoming one yourself. The rise to high visibility expertise is easier than it looks, and having the right mix of PR and marketing tactics in your arsenal can help you get there.


About the Author:

Lee W. Frederiksen, Ph.D., is Managing Partner at Hinge, a marketing firm that specializes in branding and marketing for professional services. Hinge is a leader in rebranding firms to help them grow faster and maximize value. Lee can be reached at or 703-391-8870.

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