How We Evaluate Workplace Thought Leadership

When it comes to workplace thought leadership and trends, media is currently focused on DE&I, fair and transparent pay, remote work and creating a sense of belonging among the workforce. These are evergreen issues that continue to challenge businesses. As a result, these topics matter to the media (and directly impact consumer loyalty).

Given the daily deluge of stories around these topics, it’s not surprising that our clients (and perhaps you) are curious about how to become a thought leader on workplace trends. Before we help our clients jump into workplace thought leadership, we start with an executive strategy session that helps us understand if you’re ready, willing and able to sustain a program long-term.

Analyzing your workplace thought leadership options, assets & authenticity

This part of our discovery session is often the most challenging. We ask hard questions about how your company is “walking the talk” and practicing the very concepts we’re looking to secure coverage around. Every credible workplace thought leader must be able to point to tangible examples, focuses and outcomes. A few things we want to understand right away:

  • How is your company prioritizing diversity, equity and inclusion? Is there data or insight about the actual change or progress you’ve made to improve DE&I at your company? This one is tricky, but simple. We want to know more about how you’re actually changing your workforce makeup, creating safe and inclusive environments, advocating for issues and giving every employee an equal opportunity to succeed and grow within your company. 
  • What do your employees think about your company and the culture? We’ll talk with your employees directly, review external data like Glassdoor reviews, analyze LinkedIn activity and more to get a feel for your company’s cultural perception.
  • Does your company practice pay transparency and fair compensation practices? This is an important one and an issue that not only affects workplace morale / culture, but also impacts your workers’ social mobility in life. We need thought leaders who are actively working to close pay gaps and create a more equitable society.
  • How are you engaging your workforce and creating a sense of belonging and connection? Leaders often confuse this question by discussing traditional workplace culture activities, such as “happy hours” or team lunches. That notion is completely out of touch with the reality of what engagement means to workers today. Creating a sense of belonging means your employees feel comfortable being themselves, sharing ideas, questioning the status quo, being vulnerable and trusting colleagues, etc. This is psychological and cannot be bought or faked. We want to understand how your managers empower people, what your employee review process is like, what type of real-time recognition you give employees, how you’ve built trust and ways that your company is investing in employees’ mental wellbeing.

The good news is that most leaders want to prioritize these activities, and many are already doing their part to create diverse, inclusive and empowering workplaces. For those leaders, creating a thought leadership PR program then becomes a question of “what can we say?” and “how can we say it thoughtfully?”

Our thought leadership programs start with a data analysis of current media conversations to uncover the media “green space.” Trom there we work with our Channels and Brand Strategy team to create a workplace thought leadership narrative and tone of voice. It’s so important thought leaders have a voice that:

  1. Is separate from company/corporate messaging (aka sales speak). This gives authenticity and truth to what we’re conveying to the media.
  2. Takes a “business-to-human” approach. The notion of “business-to-business” communication is an archaic concept that no longer works, and leaders’ communication style should reflect this.
  3. Provokes change and sparks interest. We aren’t satisfied with watered-down stories that have been covered a thousand times. We want to push the envelope and help you become a change agent.

Moving forward, we know workplace conversations may change, but our approach to creating authentic thought leaders will not. We take pride in creating honest programs that spotlight important issues that need to be solved. If you’re curious about becoming a workplace thought leader, reach out. We’d love to analyze your options and help you on your journey.

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