This article was originally published in the VRMA Arrival magazine under The Trade column.
To be a clear specialist and leading source of vacation rentals for a destination or a type of guest is clearly a goal for most property managers.
There are now also an increasing number of property management businesses and/or their leadership teams, that are seeking to establish themselves as ‘Thought Leaders’ or the ‘go-to’ organizations for commentary and opinion-forming within their niche of the short-term rental industry.
Having a Thought Leadership strategy is a fundamental tool for B2B public relations with most companies looking to develop their public-facing expertise strategically as a way of gaining a competitive edge. However, it’s a strategy that is less synonymous with consumer-facing brands but can still work very well as a tactic for a property manager with a clear knowledge of related topics.
Thought Leadership is all about having the answers to the fundamental questions that are of concern to your buyers as well as having the ability to include your own unique perspective on hot topics that are relevant in the industry.
In order to develop a Thought Leadership strategy, there are 5 key elements that work together to help create and maintain momentum.
A Thought Leader is not created in a vacuum. It requires some context as well as having a solid body of evidence to show ‘proof’ of your expertise. This body of evidence is best proven by producing enticing, interesting and thought-provoking content.
This content can be in the form of LinkedIn articles, blog posts, research that you have carried out including your conclusions, white papers or vlogs.
Using media relations as a tool for showcasing your ideas and insight is also key. Having opinion editorials and by-lined articles featured in your relevant media is an important vehicle for transporting your insight beyond your own networks.
Experts within a field of knowledge who are happy to share that knowledge with their peers make great speakers because they are adding value to the pool of understanding, as well as moving understanding and ‘best practice’ on. Any significant Thought Leadership strategy needs to include a robust speaking schedule.
A Thought Leader that can also speak beyond their niche subject and can discuss ‘higher level’ issues, challenges, trends, legislation and other topics within a larger travel and tourism context, are usually in demand.
It takes time and consistency to build relationships with the media and for them to trust you as a ‘go-to’ authority on your subject. But, once that trust has been built, journalists tend to be loyal to the sources they use for opinion and commentary around topics that are of interest to their audiences.
Participating in press interviews and regularly briefing journalists on relevant company announcements is a good way of building rapport. Once you have secured an interview, ensure that you provide helpful, insightful commentary and are easy to work with.
Social media engagement
Opinion formers, policymakers, the media, investors, end-users and other members of your target audience all use social media to obtain information, make connections, refine their views and make comments.
Make sure that consistent social media use, especially Twitter and LinkedIn, play a strategic role in your thought leadership campaign.
Sponsoring, entering, winning and even being short-listed for relevant awards can also add credibility and authority to your thought leadership position.
Some of the challenges of developing a Thought Leadership strategy include ‘owning your space’ in a competitive environment. It’s not easy ensuring that your voice is heard over and above the general noise. However, if you have genuine and passionate expertise and above all are authentic in what you say, given time and consistency, a Thought Leadership strategy can really pay off.
About Jessica Gillingham
Jessica is the Director & Owner of Abode PR, a specialist PR and content marketing agency partnering with clients operating in the international vacation and short-term rental space. If you’d like to discuss using PR and content marketing to move your business forward, you can contact Jessica by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org