How to Position Your CIO for Success in Thought Leadership

02 June, 2021


The turnover rate for the CIO position is hovering around 34%, according to a study. Because of the high demand for CIO expertise, a CIO can demand top dollar – especially in the post-covid, tech-dependent economy.

So, how do you help keep a CIO around?

One of the most effective ways is to help your CIO display their expertise through thought leadership. By giving your CIO the resources to showcase their skill set, you demonstrate your confidence in them and your appreciation for their abilities.

In this article, we’ll explore what it takes to position your CIO for thought leadership success.

The Process

The concept of thought leadership is something that has to be embraced by your CIO and your marketing team. Everyone has to be on board with the strategy, or it won’t work.

The CIO has to be willing to share his time with the marketing team, and the marketing team has to see the advertising advantage of elevating the CIO’s profile for the company as a whole.

There are essentially four steps in the process.

·      Step #1 – Ideation

There is always someone within the organization that is the “idea person.” They’re the ones you want to go to. They’ll help you put together ideas for articles, case studies, white papers, ebooks, and press releases that will showcase the IT skillset of your CEO.

The best plan is to get that “idea person” in a room with the CEO and the marketing team and brainstorm a TON of ideas all at once, so you have a stockpile to work on over time.

·      Step #2 – Information

Once you have your giant list of ideas in place, it’s time to get to work. For each content piece that you are going to implement, your CIO should sit down with your marketing team and give them direction and bullet points for the piece. If this doesn’t happen, IT’S NOT THOUGHT LEADERSHIP.

Without the CIO’s involvement, it’s just the marketing department rehashing other articles and marketing assets that they find on the internet.

Involving the CIO in the initial stages of content creation will separate your business from the rest of the pack and will demonstrate valid differences between your company and the competition.

·      Step #3 – Creation

Now that you’ve got the ideas and a bullet point framework in place, thanks to input from your CIO, that information can be given to your marketing copywriter and your graphic designer.

This is the stage where the magic happens!

The ideas come to life through words, graphics, and pictures.

·      Step #4 – Publication

Once the writing and associated graphics are completed and assembled, your marketing department gets to work. They will want to publish the finished content on the website with corresponding teaser content on social media.

But that’s not all.

Some pieces are better NOT to be on YOUR website. Instead, use them as a “guest post” on high domain authority websites and in trade publications. This will further elevate your CIO as a thought leader and subsequently, raise the profile of your company.

·      Step #5 – Communication (follow up)

Many have said that the most important part of the golf swing is the follow-through. Communication with inquiries via email and social media comments is a part of building your CIO’s thought leadership profile. This, unfortunately, is where many CIOs fail in the process. They don’t want to be ‘bothered’ with answering questions and comments on social media and instead pass off this task to the marketing department.

What’s the problem with that?

The problem is that the marketing department isn’t the subject matter expert!

So, what inevitably happens is that less-than-adequate answers are given to inquiries on social media, diminishing the positive impact of the initial thought leadership asset.

The People

It’s important to take a moment and understand the role of each of the individuals involved in facilitating thought leadership for a CIO.

  • The CEO – The CEO has to be on board and cannot feel threatened or diminished if the public spotlight lands on the CIO in the press or social media.
  • The CMO – The CMO is the person who coordinates the thought leadership process and keeps all the trains running on schedule. Very often, it’s the job of the CMO to gently – or not so gently – “remind” the CIO that they need to be involved in the information stage of the process.
  • The CIO – As we have stated, the CIO has a pivotal role to play. They have to be willing to use their expertise to help raise the profile of the entire organization and brand. But that’s not all. As we have already mentioned, the CIO has to be willing to be actively involved in the process. Without this involvement, the result will fall short of the objective.
  • The Copywriter – The copywriter you choose to assist with the creation of assets has to hit the mark between simple and technical, human and corporate, professional and relatable. You must understand that the copywriter isn’t the subject matter expert. The CIO is. Therefore, the copywriter must be given adequate information from the CIO and marketing team to be able to create outstanding written assets.
  • The Web/Graphic Designer – The person you choose to do web/graphic design is actually two people. In general, you are going to need someone who can make the written words come alive on the website and someone who can use your brand design guidelines to create PDF versions of the assets for digital download and print.
  • The PR Person – If you get to the stage of raising your brand awareness through the press releases and press appearances of your CIO, you’ll likely need someone doing PR. It doesn’t – at least initially – need to be a dedicated PR person, but it will certainly require someone with some background and skill in PR.

The Tools

  • The main tools you will need to facilitate a thought leadership strategy for your CIO are:
  • A company website with a blog
  • Social media profiles and pages for the company on every major social media platform
  • Connections with high-domain authority sites for guest posting
  • An account with a press release service
  • A project management platform

A final note:

This article has centered around the written-digital side of CIO thought leadership. YouTube (subject authority video production) and niche non-fiction book publication are other avenues that your company may want to explore once you have nailed down the basics of published written content thought leadership.

If you have any questions about the technical pieces that must be in place for a CIO thought leadership strategy, give the Pronix team a call. 

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