Q&A – Keys to Identifying Thought Leaders Within Your Organization
In a recent post, we outlined the definition of thought leadership through the eyes of Jason Free, executive managing editor of Health IT Leaders and News. By understanding the true definition, organizations are one step closer to determining how to incorporate thought leadership into marketing and public relations strategies. For some however, the issue isn’t understanding WHAT thought leadership is, but instead it’s determining WHO the thought leaders are.
We sat down with Adam Peck, senior director of marketing at Centrak, a provider of precise, versatile and cost-effective visibility solutions for healthcare to hear about how his organization successfully identifies and engages internal and external thought leaders.
Dodge When working to identify thought leaders within your organization, are there specific qualities that you look for in an individual?
Peck: Although it may seem obvious, thought leaders and subject matter experts should have the charisma and gravitas to not only own a room, but also possess a deep level of experience and knowledge on the given topic. Additionally, it is best to ensure that whomever is selected is really enthusiastic about representing the organization in a professional and meaningful way.
Dodge: Once you have identified the correct thought leader for a topic/piece, what is your secret for keeping that person engaged?
Peck: I suggest consciously varying the content and themes to keep things more interesting for the thought leader and for the organization.
Dodge: Have you had the opportunity to encourage someone to become a thought leader who may not have identified themselves as one? If so, can you tell me about that?
Peck: At Centrak, we believe that thought leaders can come from all departments. With this in mind, I was able to recruit one of our sales leaders, and repositioned him as an industry expert for a specific healthcare application we offer. He knew the benefits of the solution, but we knew it was a best practice not to position anyone with “sales” in their job title as an industry thought leader, so we creatively conceived an alternative job title: Director of Environmental Monitoring Solutions. This gave our thought leader the chance to share his expertise and knowledge in a non-promotional way without the stigma attached to sales specific titles.
Dodge: What advice would you give an organization that is just beginning to identify thought leaders?
Peck: I suggest organizations start small and scale up slowly. Before “biting off more than you can chew”, organizations should just pilot a program with the one to two thought leaders who can fully commit to the effort. Once it is apparent positive buzz has been generated, it will be much easier to recruit additional thought leaders to join the cause.