Why ‘thought leadership’ is a buzzword PR pros should retire

The term is meaningless without the true leadership behind it. Here are some tactics PR pros should use to build their clients’ reputations.

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Buzzwords are like fashion trends—the favorite looks of this year’s autumn season are headed to the trash heap by the time spring rolls around. Many of us can’t even look at the 80s or 90s hairstyles without cringing—and so it goes with jargon.

In the case of the phrase “thought leadership,” though, it gets tricky. No matter how much you proclaim the happy end of “thought leadership” as meaningless jargon, thought leadership is an essential part of many communications plans.

When used correctly, thought leadership is exactly what it says on the tin.

For businesses, thought leaders are at the cutting edge, changing industry expectations about what is even possible to accomplish, and helping others realize their full potential. Thought leaders are industry experts. They’re leaders. They’re facilitators.

There is a problem with how thought leaders apply the title to themselves. It’s like calling yourself smart, and it rubs people the wrong way. Let’s be real: If you have to say it yourself, it’s only because nobody else would.

How do we stop contributing to the buzzword cycle?

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