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“5 Things You Should Do To Become a Thought Leader In Your Industry” With Ann Noder

For businesses or experts, one of the best ways to raise their profile is to be a thought leader. It can help establish credibility for their brand or company, and open the door to opportunities including investors, speaking engagements, distribution and sales deals and more. In today’s media climate, outlets are looking for true experts […]


For businesses or experts, one of the best ways to raise their profile is to be a thought leader. It can help establish credibility for their brand or company, and open the door to opportunities including investors, speaking engagements, distribution and sales deals and more. In today’s media climate, outlets are looking for true experts who are willing to share insight and content which help their readers (or viewers or listeners) learn. Becoming that thought leader is a way to break from the crowd and separate from the competition.


As part of our series about how to become known as a thought leader in your industry, I had the pleasure of interviewing Ann Noder, CEO of Pitch Public Relations. She’s head of a leading boutique agency specializing in national media relations for consumer and business-to-business companies. A former television news anchor, Ann’s media and PR experience spans more than 20 years. Ann is frequently featured as a top media expert on public relations, and she’s worked with a number of high-profile companies, big brands and small startups.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share your “backstory” with us?

I am a former TV news reporter and anchor in both Arizona and Oregon. I spent 10 years in broadcasting before making the switch to public relations — and finding my true passion! In 2009, I started Pitch Public Relations. Today, we work with companies of all sizes to get them extensive editorial media coverage. We have a scrappy and savvy approach — carefully crafting the right angle for the right media target. We are in the relentless pursuit of coverage, and we deliver.

Can you briefly share with our readers why you are an authority about the topic of thought leadership?

Pitch Public Relations helps businesses (of all sizes) land significant media attention. Part of that service includes positioning executives and experts as thought leaders in their respective industries. We help them raise their national profile by putting them in the media spotlight with print, broadcast and online media.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?

It may not be the most interesting to everyone else, but for me, it’s been our growth. I started Pitch PR as a one-person agency and we’re now a leading firm with 17 PR pros handling media relations for startups and major brands. Our rise has been thrilling!

Ok, thank you for that. Let’s now jump to the main focus of our interview. In a nutshell, how would you define what a ‘Thought Leader’ is. How is a thought leader different than a typical leader? How is a thought leader different than an influencer?

A thought leader provides broad insight into topics in their industry with a focus on forward-looking trends. They are visionaries who help others learn with their insights and opinions. An influencer is more about sharing trends and getting others to follow. But often they are sharing the ideas of others, rather than initiating those thoughts themselves.

Can you talk to our readers a bit about the benefits of becoming a thought leader. Why do you think it is worthwhile to invest resources and energy into this?

For businesses or experts, one of the best ways to raise their profile is to be a thought leader. It can help establish credibility for their brand or company, and open the door to opportunities including investors, speaking engagements, distribution and sales deals and more. In today’s media climate, outlets are looking for true experts who are willing to share insight and content which help their readers (or viewers or listeners) learn. Becoming that thought leader is a way to break from the crowd and separate from the competition.

Let’s talk about business opportunities specifically. Can you share a few examples of how thought leadership can help a business grow or create lucrative opportunities?

One of our clients started writing content around his area of expertise and we offered it up to various media outlets as byline articles. He became the “go-to” expert, often cited and quoted in stories — and that content led to media hiring him as an ongoing columnist. It also led to speaking opportunities and book deals.

Another client, who started with us as a small start-up, now runs a unicorn business (valued at over $1billion.) Part of the success came from establishing him as a thought leader around trends in his industry. He was willing to talk about other companies, trends and stories — even those that didn’t directly relate to his company. Becoming a thought-leader made him a media darling and that editorial exposure helped grow his company.

Ok. Now that we have that behind us, we’d love to hear your thoughts about how to eventually become a thought leader. Can you share 5 strategies that a person should implement to become known as a thought leader in their industry. Please tell us a story or example (ideally from your own experience) for each.

  1. Have a distinct point-of-view. Thought leaders have a unique perspective. A voice that is true and authentic. This means taking a stand, especially on issues that might have multiple views. You must be willing to have an opinion to be a thought leader.
  2. Be willing to share. Thought leaders share knowledge and expertise — true takeaways for others to learn from. Being a thought leader is not about self-promotion (touting yourself and your company), but instead helping others learn. The more information you give away, the better.
  3. Look forward, not back. Experts reflect on what’s happened. Thought leaders provide insight into what’s ahead. In order to truly have this designation, you need to provide insight into what’s next.
  4. Don’t limit yourself. Narrowing down your expertise limits potential. Think broader and bigger. Be willing to say yes to opportunities that might not seem like the perfect fit. It helps you build a track record of success as you move on to bigger and better things.
  5. Be quick to act. Thought leaders know that opportunity to share expertise can be fleeting and quick in today’s media climate. Saying “yes” to opportunities is crucial. Saying “when” is equally important. Be fast to react to chances to share your story and insight or the media will move on to someone else. They need it now.

I have seen some discussion that the term “thought leader” is trite, overused, and should be avoided. What is your feeling about this?

A thought leader should be the way someone describes you, not the way you describe yourself. More important than the term, is the action. Focus on being that thought leader.

What advice would you give to other leaders to thrive and avoid burnout?

When you are doing what you love, burnout is less of an issue. The only way to have success as a thought leader is to be focused on what truly drives you. When you are a thought leader, it’s always about “what’s next?” — so the climate and perspective changes over time, which means it’s always fresh!

You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I’m always passionate and excited about the entrepreneurial spirit, which I think is not only alive and well — but thriving. I love encouraging others to start their own business and work tirelessly to make it a success. This is the engine of our economy!

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

Henry David Thoreau’s “Go confidently in the direction of your dreams, live the life you’ve imagined.” It motivates me every time I read it! It was the inspiration behind starting my business and definitely drives me on a daily basis.

We are blessed that very prominent leaders in business and entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world with whom you would like to have a lunch or breakfast with? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂

Hmmmm. Well, I wouldn’t mind having lunch with a handsome movie star, of course. But in business, I am an admirer of Kara Goldin/CEO of Hint and I’d love to meet Lori Greiner of Shark Tank fame.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

Thank you so much for your insights. This was very insightful and meaningful.

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