Declaring Something Is Dead, Is Dead. Long Live Declaring Something Is Dead

Shortcuts to being a thought leader

At a recent panel for the 4A's PR Summit, I offered the advice—if you want to get a lot of press, all you have to do is declare that some part of our industry is dead. (Maybe not surprisingly, this statement got tweeted out.) 

It struck me that there seems to be a cottage industry of people who have made a name for themselves by creating a lot of confusion, and giving the impression that they know the answer, without actually having to know the answer. 

I figured this is exactly the kind of gig I could get in on. If you follow my advice, perhaps you can, too. 

How to Be a Thought Leader

The real secret to being on the forefront of thought is to find the next new hot emerging trend, then declare it's over before it actually becomes a trend—e.g., programmatic healthcare. (This isn't actually a thing, but a lot of cachet can be earned by putting two unrelated buzzwords together.) 

An alternative way to spot the future is to look backwards. Find something that's from your childhood or that's passé and state that it's a trend to watch out for, like coloring books or asbestos. 

The actual content isn't really the important part. The important part is that I used the word content somewhere in this piece. 

Some other tips include:

1. Creating a list. Just make sure you have more than one thing to put on it. 

Bottom line, the key thing to keep in mind here is that this is all about personal branding. Everything you speak, write or give talks about should answer the simple question: "Is this going to get me to a speaking convention in Florida during the winter?"

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Greg Hahn
Greg Hahn is chief creative officer of BBDO New York.