In the absence of in-person conferences and industry events, companies are rethinking their business strategies and how to build new relationships. Many are starting to realize what we have known for some time: the tools to become a virtual thought leader have been around longer than the pandemic.

By participating in online discussions, moderating virtual events and webinars, and producing a variety of digital content, thought leaders can reach a larger potential audience than with in-person events because attendance is not limited by the size of a venue. By leveraging digital strategies and platforms, thought leaders can also save time and money on event coordination and setup, giving them more time to focus on creating high-value content and forging lasting relationships.

Here’s what every virtual thought leader should have in their toolbox:

1. Hosting Virtual Events and Webinars

Much like in-person events and conferences, virtual events provide experts and thought leaders with an opportunity to share their unique perspective and build their following. With attendees able to dial-in from anywhere in the world (with no travel costs!), virtual events can happen any time, on almost any platform, making them more accessible and timely. Check out our guide to nailing virtual events here.

2. Increasing Social Media Engagement

You can get even more value out of virtual events by promoting them and repurposing content from them for social media. Did you make graphics or record a video for your virtual event? Go ahead and share snippets on social. This is a great way to engage audiences in a more direct, personal environment. You can further maximize the impact of these posts and increase engagement by developing robust social campaigns that incorporate paid social promotions. For example, a promoted post can use content from an upcoming event to drive traffic to your company’s website or an event registration link.

3. Booking and Launching Podcasts

More than 68 million people listen to at least one podcast a week. That’s a quarter of the U.S. population hungry for digestible, accessible audio content. This massive listenership presents a fruitful opportunity for thought leaders in any industry to join the conversation by being a guest on the most popular podcasts in their sectors or even starting their own series. Appearing on or hosting an authoritative podcast can boost a thought leader’s brand recognition, engagement, and SEO, especially now that Google is indexing podcast transcripts. When you start your own podcast, you have complete control over how you manage your SEO, social engagement, and brand positioning.

 4. Starting or Contributing to a Blog

Blogs have been around for a long time but continue to be highly valuable content channels — when done right. A great blog can be a thought leadership platform, a networking space, a sales tool, and an SEO driver all at once. It’s also a great opportunity to practice key messaging by publishing or contributing to blogs. For some tech topics, such as cloud security infrastructure or remote monitoring systems, these blogs provide rare outlets for highly technical longform content on niche subjects. If you’re looking for ways to get your message out there and expand your thought leadership platform, we recommend acting now rather than waiting. With more people staying inside and online due to quarantine and shutdown measures, it is a great time for thought leaders to tap into that increased traffic.

Start Now, Benefit Later

Kickstarting a new thought leadership platform (or even continuing from a previous one) in the middle of a global pandemic is no easy task. While a new thought leadership initiative may take longer to gain traction and a following, thought leaders can take the time available now to set up the right tools and systems so they’re better prepared for the “new normal” in the future.


RH Strategic is a Seattle and D.C.-based communications firm with a nationwide presence and additional global reach via membership in the Worldcom Public Relations Group. We provide strategic public relations for innovators in the technology, government and healthcare markets.