Transform Your Team With a People-First Management Style

Transform Your Team With a People-First Management Style

Here’s How.

Over the last year or two, we’ve witnessed a fundamental realignment of our relationship with work. Broad trends like the Great Resignation, quiet quitting, and the ongoing debate over the legitimacy of remote work have exposed a significant rift between employers and employees. Some business leaders have responded by questioning the commitment and dedication of today’s workers. Others have doubled down on the same outdated management practices that drive these trends (see Elon Musk and Twitter) in an effort to wrestle back control.

Neither of these approaches is the correct way to meet this unique moment. Employees will continue to have higher expectations for their careers and the people in leadership positions around them. Consequently, business leaders must respond by re-examining the way they lead rather than continuing to reinforce authoritarian, position-driven management practices.


My Leadership Influences

I’ve been fortunate to spend most of my career leading people. And while I’ve never been drawn to a top-down management style, it took me several years to define my own leadership practice. Apart from my work experience, I’ve drawn inspiration from two important sources.

The first is my cultural identity of being Jewish, which places great importance on supporting those who are less fortunate than you. This deeply-ingrained outlook helped me discover my second great source of leadership inspiration: The Rotary Club of Portland

For those unfamiliar with Rotary, it’s an international service organization that encourages people to unite and take action for good across the globe. One of the things I find most appealing about Rotary is its Four-Way Test, which helps members make sound and ethical decisions. 

The test includes four questions:

  1. Is it the TRUTH?
  2. Is it FAIR to ALL concerned?
  4. Will it be BENEFICIAL to ALL concerned?

The words truth, fair, goodwill, better friendships and beneficial are purposely written in all-caps to remind members of the most critical elements of this test. When I refer to the test, I also include all in uppercase letters as a personal reminder to center equity and inclusion in my decisions.


Defining a Leadership Approach

My cultural identity and experience in Rotary helped lay an ethical foundation for my leadership approach, which I’ve used in my work with Veracity, and other endeavors, like chairing the Oregon Ethics in Business Awards. As I lead, I use those ethical principles to foster four important actions that guide my daily work and interactions with my team members:


1. Encourage Diversity of Thought

You’ll be amazed at what you can learn when you accept that you don’t know everything. One of my most important jobs as a leader is to unlock the potential, creativity and a sense of purpose within the individuals on my team. But that will never happen if I inflict a heavy, top-down management style that places primacy on my approach while penalizing my team when they demonstrate autonomy of thought and action. Instead, I seek to treat my team members as equals, each with their own valuable views, opinions and contributions. Over time, this builds people’s confidence and makes work more efficient, benefiting our business and clients.


2. Create a Culture of Trust

Encouraging diversity of thought goes hand-in-hand with creating a culture of trust. My team needs to know they can make decisions and mistakes without being second-guessed. They also need to know that I’m available whenever they need help. Building this type of culture will take work. As a leader, you need to take action to build trust by listening to your team and asking questions. This curiosity should extend beyond work and into life in general. By demonstrating that your relationship is more than just a transactional exchange, you’ll build a level of trust that can empower your team to do great things.


3. Have an Unselfish Mindset

Too many people view leadership as a zero-sum game, believing that if they give too much, they’ll lose out in the end. I believe this is a fear-based outlook that will only end up limiting leaders and their teams. In contrast, giving of yourself freely — whether it’s your time, knowledge or support — empowers your team to do much more than they could on their own. I’ve always believed that as a leader, I’m in a position to prove my worth to the people I lead, and giving generously is one of the best ways to accomplish that.


4. Foster Leadership in Others

These first three actions ultimately lead to the fourth, which is fostering leadership in others. This goal moves beyond individual autonomy into something even more remarkable, where team members feel confident and free enough to lead from wherever they are. However, fostering leadership in others is only possible when leaders listen to their team to learn what excites them about their work. It’s only possible when team members know they can make honest mistakes and fail in a safe and supportive environment. It’s only possible when business leaders are unselfish enough to turn their personal power over to others. But businesses can accomplish almost anything when all these pieces fall into place.


The Benefits of This Leadership Style

In my experience, managing with a people-first perspective creates happier teams, less turnover, and better results. It’s even allowed me to evolve my role at Veracity from the CEO and CMO to an advisor focused on business operations, marketing and client strategy. 

We’ve even brought this inclusive leadership style to our client work. Rather than operating from a fear-based perspective by protecting our expertise and knowledge, we empower our clients to learn what we do and why we do it, even turning some roles over to them if it’s a better fit. As a result, we build stronger relationships and deliver better bottom-line results. 

This management style has also been successful in other industries. When Art Barter became CEO of Datron in 2004, he committed to a people-centric management style many people call servant leadership. After six years of using this approach, the company’s revenue grew from $10 million to $200 million.


It’s Time for a New Approach

At its core, leadership is about influence. Under a traditional business model, leaders gained influence through their position and explicit authority over their direct reports. While this approach is effective in its own way, it doesn’t always build loyalty among employees or inspire them to do their best work. By contrast, a people-centered leadership style seeks to be more egalitarian by recognizing the team’s existing abilities and using your tools as a leader to help them find more success in their work. This approach builds influence not through position but by an earned trust. Ideally, employees feel more appreciated for their work, in control of their future and more engaged in the company’s mission.


Become a Better Leader for Your Team

If you’re a business leader who wants to help your team thrive individually and collaboratively in this new business environment, here are a few steps you can take:

  1. Ask your team more questions: This effectively demonstrates that your team’s opinion matters. Focus on searching questions that elicit better answers to show how much you value feedback.
  2. Be open to questions: Have an open door (or email, or slack or phone) policy for any and all questions. Never make someone feel like they should have known or not asked a question. 
  3. Take small actions: Sometimes, even small things can make a big difference in how your teammates perceive you. Actions like not correcting an employee during a client call, or adding your ideas when not needed to assert power or listening without interrupting demonstrate that you trust your team and want to foster a safe learning environment.

Underlying all of this is the simple idea that the leader’s place is to serve by empowering their team to be their best. That way everyone wins, from the ownership to the customers, to the employees. Making this perspective change could be all it takes to transform your leadership style into one that keeps pace with our evolving ideas of work and how it intersects with our lives and ambitions outside of it.

I’m PR: Seeking Organizations Desiring Stronger Brands

I’m PR: Seeking Organizations Desiring Stronger Brands

Hi, my name is public relations, but you can call me PR. I’m currently seeking an organization that wants to build a relationship with me. I wear many hats that can elevate your organization’s position and reputation in the marketplace. If you are looking for an organized, strategic, good-looking partner, then we might click!


A Little About My Family

I am pretty versatile, and my past relationships could agree. Many people associate me with my cousins, marketing and advertising, and yes, we are very close but usually function differently. We are all in the family of communication, but I earn my work, whereas advertising pays for it, but we both deliver messages and inspire action among key audiences.


My Everyday Life and Hobbies

No day is the same for me. I am everywhere, juggling many projects at once. Keeping my calendar updated is very important, so if you’re looking for me, you can surely find me there. 

Although I’m not always by the book. I love spontaneous news pitches or a good networking opportunity. But don’t get fooled, I will always put my organization first and can pen you in if you need a quick pick-me-up or a coffee. 

My favorite hobbies include: 

  • Searching the news for topics my organization could comment on
  • Pitching my thought leaders for podcasts, speaking engagements or bylined articles
  • Writing A LOT, whether it be a blog post or press release
  • Planning events and meetings
  • Building relationships with reporters

Extras about me:

  • Favorite catchphrase: “Hi, I am checking to see if you received my last email?”
  • My biggest pet peeve: No response
  • Favorite shows: Sex in the City (Samantha!) and Schitt’s Creek (Alexis!)
  • Biggest value: Honesty
  • Favorite podcast: The PR Talk Podcast (Obvi!)


My Love Language

Understanding and supporting my organization’s mission and goals is a high priority. I also consider its key audiences and the messages it wants to deliver. One of my favorite books is A Modern Guide to Public Relations by Amy Rosenberg. She speaks so highly of me while explaining how I work. The book discusses my strategies when developing a campaign, while providing examples of some related tactics. As you can already tell, I am all about planning ahead and carefully choosing my strategies and tactics for each initiative. Basing my plans around audience customization and achieving my organization’s objectives is key to my love language.


What I Know About Organizations

An organization’s brand is one of its most valuable assets. Audiences can instantly recognize groups like Nike, Apple and McDonald’s. But they are more than just their names and logos. Most importantly, they evoke specific responses from their target audiences. I can be used to achieve desired responses (what you want people to think, feel or do) when they associate with you. I use my understanding of those aimed responses to create plans to reflect positively on my organization’s brand, but I am also there if the plan backfires.


What Would Make Us a Perfect Match

My perfect match is an organization that understands a good relationship takes time. We won’t know everything about each other overnight, so you can’t expect results right away. A perfect match must be open to new ideas and opportunities. When I find a new organization, things will change, and I need to know you are prepared. 


Fun Date Ideas

Every date doesn’t have to be different. I understand that consistently showing up is very important, but I did think of some fun things we could do together. These are not just for our first date, but the future of our relationship!

  • Create a newsworthy press release (here is an example) and send it to the media for coverage 
  • Hold events for a particular community cause and ensure press is invited
  • Create articles and blogs from thought leaders to show what you know and garner backlinks to your website
  • Conduct company-wide volunteering efforts and donation campaigns
  • Have thought leaders from your organization go on TV, radio, and podcasts

How to Get My Attention

If you read through my profile and thought: wow, I need PR in my life, then go ahead and swipe right! I would love to get to know you and see if we could build a strong relationship. There are many ways to reach me, and one of them is through this contact form. If you don’t think you are ready, ease yourself in by learning more about me in this excellent guide to my modern life.

Thanks for visiting! XOXO 

Why You Need to Create an Effective Content Marketing Strategy

Why You Need to Create an Effective Content Marketing Strategy

Way back in 1996, when the internet was still in its infancy, Bill Gates wrote what has now become a famous essay entitled, “Content is King.” In this essay, the Microsoft founder described the future of the internet as a place to distribute and monetize content. “.. [T]he broad opportunities for most companies involve supplying information or entertainment,” he wrote. “No company is too small to participate.”

Gates’ essay is so well known because his predictions proved to be remarkably accurate. Twenty-five years later, the internet is awash in podcasts, videos, blog posts, songs, photographs and anything else that can be digitized. Much of this content is free. However, many creators and corporations have figured out how to leverage their talent and available tools to sell content online. What’s more, internet users have shown a near-endless appetite for this material. From searching how-to videos on YouTube, streaming the latest release on Spotify, or reading someone’s take on the day’s political news, billions of hungry eyes are eager to consume relevant content.


What is Content Marketing?

It didn’t take long for digital marketers to use these online tools to produce content for their clients. Unlike digital marketing, which is a more overt attempt to sell products or services, content marketing distributes information using digital platforms to build community and brand affinity or help people make decisions. 

Let’s consider skis, for example. Where digital marketing uses tools like search engine marketing and social media advertising to sell someone a pair of skis, content marketing attempts to create an experience around skiing or mountain adventures, while still pursuing traditional marketing goals. This could be through explainer videos that teach consumers how to maintain tune their skis or an infographic that helps someone choose the type of skis that are right for them. Content marketing aims to create material users find valuable so they’ll associate those positive feelings with a particular brand when they eventually make a purchase decision.

Content marketing is a popular technique in business-to-business marketing campaigns, where traditional digital marketing tools are less useful. Companies can accelerate prospects through their sales funnel by creating content that explains crucial products or anticipates potential customer’s questions or objections. 


Examples of Content Marketing

This technique is as old as marketing itself. However, content marketing has become increasingly popular as more and more of our daily activities move online. Over the years, some companies have found very clever ways to send their brand messages using the approach. 

In 2015, the Unilever-owned brand Dollar Shave Club launched Mel, an online magazine that focuses on lifestyle and culture topics from a man’s perspective. While Mel targets the same audience as Dollar Shave Club, it doesn’t sell razors. Instead, it’s become a respected outlet for thoughtfully written content with a distinct voice. While Mel is now its own company with a dedicated website, some of its content is cross-published on the Dollar Shave Club site, which shows how versatile this kind of content can be. 

Content marketing isn’t only about writing. Search the free stock photo site Unsplash for home office images, and you’ll find a series of photographs provided by Dell’s XPS brand of laptops. These images feature sleek and modern workspaces that any home office warrior would covet, with the sleek and modern XPS laptops front-and-center. Every blogger or web developer understands the value of free stock photography. In this instance, XPS has found a way to harness that built-in demand and provide helpful solutions that also happen to send a strong brand message.

Photo by XPS on Unsplash

Photo by XPS on Unsplash

The goal of these two examples is not to make a conversion. Instead, they associate a brand with an attractive aesthetic, relatable point of view or aspirational identity. When a purchase decision comes further down the line, it will hopefully be informed, in part, by the content the buyer consumed up until that point.


How Can Content Marketing Drive Public Relations?

Public relations professionals can use content marketing techniques to drive public opinion or sentiment in the same way marketers use content to drive customer behavior. In early 2019, Slack, the popular workplace messaging app, revealed an extensive logo redesign that was met with… mixed reviews. As part of the launch, Slack published a piece of content on its website explaining the very practical reasons why the change was so necessary. Even though not everyone appreciated the new logo design, Slack’s rationale for the change was widely cited by the media. As a result, their content marketing had driven extensive media coverage (see Google News results) including links from 392 domains.

Media Coverage for Slack via Google News

Media Coverage for Slack via Google News


Fifty years ago, a leading business automation company likely would have issued a press release explaining a significant brand change. Today, companies can steer the conversation through carefully created talking points while achieving better results using tools like a company-owned blog and social media channels.

It doesn’t take controversy for content marketing to be a successful PR strategy. PR experts can take day-to-day content like blog posts, videos, white papers, podcasts and more, and break them into smaller, more digestible pieces they can use in many different ways. When done correctly, content marketing creates flexible assets that sales, marketing and PR professionals can use to bring more attention to your brand. It only requires an overarching strategy that guides those efforts


Utilizing Your Team to Create a Winning Content Marketing Strategy

Fortunately, you don’t have to be Unilever or Dell to develop an effective content marketing strategy. Instead, you need a focused approach that defines your audience, goals, and deliverables. Here are a few things to consider as you begin developing your own content strategy:

Define Who You’re Talking To:
Every piece of content you create should begin with its audience in mind. Start by defining your audience and the solutions you’re trying to provide.

Set Your Goals:
Next, define what you want to accomplish with your content. This step will inform how you distribute what you produce and the tools you’ll use to measure success.

Inventory the Deliverables:
There’s no need to reinvent the wheel. If you don’t have the time or resources to produce videos, don’t try and force it. Instead, assess your company’s strengths and create content that aligns with what you’re best at.

Measure and Repeat:
Track your content marketing efforts and draw on those results to improve whenever possible.

Content Strategy Checklist

Of course, not every company has the in-house resources necessary to undertake a fully realized content marketing strategy. In these instances, organizations may look to outside marketing or PR agencies to fill in the gaps or lead content marketing efforts. Under these circumstances, companies will get the best results by treating third-party agencies as full-fledged team members who are just as invested in the company’s success as its employees are.


“No Company is Too Small to Participate”

Just as Bill Gates predicted all those years ago, any company can benefit from a thoughtful content marketing strategy. In the age of content, your corporate voice is a vital component in relaying your brand message and value proposition to potential customers. Because without it, consumers will certainly get the information they’re seeking somewhere else.

Staying Ahead of the Puck that is Google with Michael Cottam [Podcast]

Staying Ahead of the Puck that is Google with Michael Cottam [Podcast]

Staying Ahead of the Puck that is Google with Michael Cottam

“I skate to where the puck is going, not where it has been.” — Wayne Gretzky.

Somewhere in the middle of the PR Talk conversation I had with Michael Cottam he cited this quote in reference to how he approaches search marketing. This means that Michael doesn’t just focus on what Google is doing, he broadens his view to what Google will be doing. There couldn’t be a more fascinating way to think about the ever-evolving topic of search, and especially how it relates to PR.

Michael Cottam is a renowned search engine optimization (SEO) expert who many in the search industry already know. Beyond providing highly-coveted search consultation for clients, Michael is the founder of Visual Itineraries, which he calls his SEO “sandbox” because it is where he tests search theories for clients.

Always full of great information, I am normally talking with Michael either at a busy conference or while collaborating on a mutual client. So I took this dedicated time to really dig in and get my questions answered. Even if my questions are in the weeds or are very technical, I don’t care because it will help us help Veracity’s SEO PR clients!

Battle of the SEOs: Does Michael Agree with Rand About Links?

First, I had to know if Michael agreed or disagreed with Rand Fiskin’s notion that links are not nearly as important as they once were for SEO (check out the last PR Talk interview with Rand titled “The Wall Street Journal Problem” for more context). 

Michael wholeheartedly agreed with Rand. 

The backstory is that Google used to rank web pages higher in search engines by relying on quantifying their external links. But now, Google has improved its ability to recognize quality content within web pages. While links are still important, websites that thoroughly cover specific topics will in turn rank for those specific topics.


Google’s E-A-T Attempts to Take the Consumer’s Place

Michael explains that in addition to links, Google is now considering “E-A-T,” which stands for “Expertise, Authority and Trust,” to rank web pages. For example, Google can determine the authority of a web page by attempting to discover who wrote the page and then follow a trail back to previous content by that author. If the author has written authoritative posts and been included (mentioned) as a source in other websites, Google will consider them an expert, thus trusting the page. Therefore, thought leader names are becoming just as important, or possibly even more important, than company names in terms of establishing credibility and resulting SEO.  

Since Veracity handles a lot of guest article placement for thought leaders, I wanted to dig into this concept further. I would think that name credibility could be built by landing many guest article placements. However, Michael said that interviews (or getting names included in articles) by credible third-party sources (such as reporters) are just as important. You want a mix of both to build your thought leader’s name, as well as the company name. 

The E-A-T concept allows Google to mechanically re-create what consumers would see along the decision-making process and ultimately what websites they would click on. In this way, Google essentially acts like a consumer to serve its customers (web searchers).


Schema Markup Can Help Us Tier Press Lists

Back to my favorite topics of links, if all else is equal, of course you’d place more intrinsic value on the website article that also provides a followed link to your website. However, we could also review the “schema markup” (a type of structured data) of web pages. This hidden code enables search engines to understand what the page actually is about so it can more readily appear in searches. For example, appropriate schema markup will tell Google that a webpage is really a press article, as well as who published and wrote it. 

PR people should not inquire or advise press/web contacts about schema markup. This is a much bigger deal than simply asking the press to add a link into a previously written article.  Additionally, there are ways we can discover who is using ideal schema markup in order to tier websites/press by using Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool or Rich Results Test to see if the site is using structured data (see more about these tools in this Search Engine Land article).


Are No-Follow Links the Devil?

For a long time we have been talking about no-follow links not being very great for SEO. However, Mike Rosenberg has been unsure about this for a while, so we posed the question to Michael Cottam.

He said that Google cares very much about “user-generated links” (links generated by others), which are found on social media sites, such as LinkedIn and Twitter, and on forums and places like Reddit and Quora. You want a mix of outside press (links and/or mentions from other websites) and buzz from user-generated links, which are no-follow, because they show what is hot right now.

However, there should be a natural bell curve pattern in the links. You don’t want to do a bunch of Facebook ads to generate comments and links for users at only one time. Ideally, you’d get some outside press coverage first and then share that article on social media (with some budget behind it) to show Google that people are also talking about you, which will increase the search impact of the original article.


We talked about so much more in the interview. More detailed questions such as how to approach keywords when writing press materials were answered. And larger topics, such as: 1) how search and PR teams can effectively work together, and 2) if search and PR could ever be combined into one role. That was an easy no!


Don’t Miss an Episode

You can access more great episodes by subscribing to the PR Talk podcast on iTunes, Stitcher, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio and Spotify.

About the guest: Michael Cottam

Michael Cottam is the founder of Visual Itineraries, a sales closing and lead-generation tool for travel agents, and is an independent SEO consultant, focusing on technical organic search engine optimization, Panda optimization, and Google penalty recovery. The former SEMpdx board member is currently involved in the Rotary Club of Greater Bend, where he recently moved to be closer to the outdoors. 

Connect and follow Michael on social media:

Michael Cottam technical seo consultant

This episode of PR Talk is brought to you by PRSA Oregon

Throughout Oregon and Southwest Washington, PRSA provides members with networking, mentorship, skill building and professional development opportunities – whether you are a new professional fresh out of college or a skilled expert with 20 years in the industry. Check out for more information on how membership can help you grow and connect.

Why Thought Leadership is an Essential Marketing Tool for Your Business

Why Thought Leadership is an Essential Marketing Tool for Your Business

Moving Past the Jargon: Why Thought Leadership is an Essential Marketing Tool for Your Business

For a while there, the term “thought leadership” seemed destined for the dustbin of marketing history. Part jargon, part cliche, the term became synonymous with personal brand builders who plied their trade in breathless LinkedIn posts or at TEDx talks held in hotel conference rooms. Fortunately, savvy marketers rescued the thought leader from this ignominious fate by refocusing the concept into a powerful business growth strategy.

Today, thought leadership is a content marketing approach that positions a company, executive or other subject matter expert as the go-to resource in their field. Influential thought leaders produce content that answers their customers’ questions, provides solutions to pressing problems or offers the audience a new point-of-view to consider.

When executed correctly, these campaigns include their own strategies, tactics, goals and measures to judge effectiveness. As those elements come together, thought leadership begins to drive bottom-line results. That’s why marketing leaders — especially in the B2B space — should consider incorporating this approach into their overall strategy.

Four Ways Thought Leadership Drives Bottom-Line Results

While the idea of thought leadership might initially appeal to the ego, it strongly aligns with the marketing philosophy that giving generously to your customers brings tangible returns. Here are four ways that can play out for your business.


Thought Leadership Increases Business Visibility

The goal of marketing is to build awareness around your company and its products or services. By producing thought leadership content, you’ll demonstrate your team’s inherent expertise in ways that are helpful to potential new customers. Research conducted by LinkedIn and Edelman revealed how thought leadership drives new business generation. According to their findings, 45% of decision-makers said they “invited a producer of thought leadership content to bid on a project when they had not previously considered the organization.” After all, delivering an exciting new idea at just the right time is a fantastic way to get someone’s attention.


Thought Leadership Builds and Maintains Trust with Your Audience

By some estimates, acquiring a new customer costs five times as much as retaining an old one. With this in mind, businesses must find ways to grow their existing audience and build the trust necessary for them to purchase again and again. Thought leadership accomplishes this by delivering content that helps customers do their jobs better. According to research conducted by The Grist, 66% of executives use thought leadership to stay ahead of trends. In addition, 60% of executives reported that thought leadership helped them make better, more informed decisions.

When business leaders see smart, relevant and helpful content, it drives behavior. The LinkedIn/Edelman study found that 55% of decision-makers increased their business with an organization based on their thought leadership. What’s more, 60% said that “thought leadership convinced them to buy a product or service they were not previously considering.” These statistics show that well-executed thought leadership campaigns effectively engage existing customers and drive ongoing purchasing decisions.

Thought Leadership Shortens the Sales Cycle

For businesses managing long and complex sales cycles, thought leadership can be an effective strategy for answering questions in advance, preemptively addressing objections and moving customers closer to action. LinkedIn and Edelman found that nearly 60% of decision-makers awarded business to an organization based directly on their thought leadership. By demonstrating your knowledge in advance and anticipating customer pain points, you show potential customers how you’ll serve them once they’ve decided to purchase.


Thought Leadership Supports Other Marketing Goals

In addition to driving customer behavior and bottom-line results, carefully developed thought leadership content becomes flexible assets that support broader marketing efforts like increasing social media engagement, driving traffic to your website and overall brand development. You may also begin to uncover unmet customer needs as you develop audience profiles and mine your organization’s existing expertise.


Potential Thought Leadership Channels

Some companies might hesitate before jumping into thought leadership because they believe they don’t have the expertise to successfully execute their strategy or stand out in a crowded marketplace. However, thought leadership can take on many different forms, including:

  • Corporate blogging
  • Guest posting on established blogs
  • Public relations outreach
  • Podcast appearances
  • Social media content
  • Expert interviews for media
  • Conference speaking engagements
  • Video content

The key is to assess your organization’s capabilities, find the channels where you’re well-positioned to succeed and then share what you know.


The Recipe for a Winning Marketing Strategy

With this information in mind, it’s easy to see how thought leadership has evolved from an occupation for a specific set of personal brand builders into a legitimate business growth strategy — especially in B2B marketing.

By consistently demonstrating how your unique expertise solves a customer’s specific problems, you’ve positioned your organization as their essential partner for success. Creating that communication ecosystem drives new business leads, accelerates your sales cycle and strengthens existing customer relationships. All the while, you’re creating flexible content that supports other outreach initiatives. That has all the makings of a winning marketing strategy.

Leadership with Ken Jacobs [Podcast]

Leadership with Ken Jacobs [Podcast]

So, You Want to Be a Thought Leader? First, Become a Leader.


How to Become a Leader, With Leadership Coach: Ken Jacobs


A lot of our work at Veracity centers around positioning and building thought leaders, especially for our B2B clients. While we are lucky to work with many truly amazing leaders, I am sometimes stumped when giving clients advice on how to become thought leaders because I believe the journey begins well before positioning leaders in content pieces, speaking engagements or press interviews. It starts with becoming a leader.

Being at the beginning stages of my own leadership career, I thought I’d go straight to the source to find out all about leadership: to my leadership and business coach, of course!

This episode features leadership consultant Ken Jacobs, with Jacobs Consulting & Executive Coaching, which helps PR and marketing agencies, along with their leaders, achieve and surpass their goals.

In a wide-ranging conversation in which Ken delves into his top ten characteristics of an effective leader, we’re taken through a journey on how to become a leader, with important clarification on what leadership actually is. Hint: leadership is so much more than just a title!


Ken’s Top Ten Leadership Characteristics


#1: Conscious decision — Leaders first have to make a conscious decision to lead, at which point then they can have followers. It is important to remember that a leader cannot lead without followers.

#2: Vision — Leaders not only have vision, but they must share their vision with their teams.

#3: Values — Leaders effectively communicate their values and standards of quality to their teams.

#4: Trust — This goes both ways. Not only do leaders need to be trusted, they also need to demonstrate trust in their team members.

#5: Respect — A conversation about how to give constructive feedback ensues around the topic of trust.

#6: Courage — Decisive decision making is an example of how to demonstrate courage.

#7: Listen — As many leaders have said, we must listen more than we talk. Remember to listen empathetically.

#8: Celebrate failures — Both leaders and team members can learn and grow from the new paths that failures can bring forth.

#9: Empower, don’t delegate — A very interesting conversation about why delegating is so hard ensues around this topic.

Photo by Jake Hurley on Unsplash

#10: Reverse organizational structure — If a triangle represents traditional organizational structure, with the leader at the top, servant leaders turn this triangle upside down to picture themselves serving all who are above, or traditionally below, them.

As Ken and I dig into each of these ten topics, many interesting side conversations emerge, such as the difference between managing and leading and how emotional intelligence plays an important role in the daily lives of every leader, especially during these trying times. In true leader fashion, Ken uses his past failures to explain his learnings.

If you are interested in embarking on a path towards thought leadership, first listen to this interview to possibly redefine what leadership truly is. If you like what you hear, Ken is offering PR Talk listeners a complimentary hour on the phone to discuss your constantly-evolving leadership path. As a frequent dialoguer with Ken, trust me, this time will be well spent!

Don’t Miss an Episode

You can access more great episodes by subscribing to the PR Talk podcast on iTunes, Stitcher, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio and Spotify.

About the guest: Ken Jacobs

Ken Jacobs, PCC, CPC, an experienced consultant and certified coach, is the principal of Jacobs Consulting & Executive Coaching. For 10 years, his firm has helped agencies grow and manage business, improve client service and relationships, and enhance staff performance. It does so via consulting and training. In addition, through his executive coaching, he has helped leaders from C-suite executives to managers, achieve and surpass their goals.

Connect and follow Ken on social media:

Ken Jacobs on PR Talk

This episode of PR Talk is brought to you by PRSA Oregon

Throughout Oregon and Southwest Washington, PRSA provides members with networking, mentorship, skill building and professional development opportunities – whether you are a new professional fresh out of college or a skilled expert with 20 years in the industry. Check out for more information on how membership can help you grow and connect.