By Rex Hammock, Founder and CEO
Yesterday, the morning after the 2016 presidential election, I received an email from an investment company. Its subject line: “How could the election impact financial markets and the economy?”
Besides being a great example of savvy timing (it was the first such email I received) and an impossible-to-ignore subject line, the message demonstrated what a company must do to be perceived as an “opinion leader.”
When developing a customer media strategy for clients, we are often asked to include opinion leadership content as part of the strategy. We understand the client’s request. However, technically speaking, opinion leadership is a goal. Communicating consistently to an audience in order to provide insight and understanding will result in recognition as an opinion leader.
As with any type of leadership, opinion leadership is created when someone steps forward to explain the inexplicable. Anyone can string together buzzwords or lists from Google searches, but opinion leadership comes as the result of crafting communications free of clichés and over-used metaphors. It comes from experience and research, not just top 10 lists.
Most important, an opinion leader must step forward to explain difficult concepts and complex ideas during times of greatest uncertainty. Anyone can be an opinion leader when things are going great and everyone agrees with whatever the prevailing opinion might be.
But to be recognized as an opinion leader, one can’t wait until the dust has settled to hold up a finger, hoping to perceive the direction from which the wind is blowing. Opinion leadership is established when gale force winds are beating against one’s face.
Times like now.
Any time of change and uncertainty—such as the transition of an administration—is when your audience is most wanting to hear what you have to say. The sooner you say it, the better.
Bottom line for marketers: Opinion leadership is the result of being willing to speak clearly, insightfully and with calm reassurance when those around you are not willing to speak at all.