Introducing 360PR+ AGENDA: Helping Brands Build and Leverage Thought Leadership

Not that long ago, reputation management stood alone, apart from marketing communications. It was Management capital M – nearly always reactive and often limited to being a function of issues management. While a critical aspect of issues management, the work of reputation management extends much more broadly today, with an opportunity to proactively build and evolve brand reputation as business needs and culture evolves.

A new cohort of stakeholders with markedly different expectations from their predecessors’ want more insight into where brands and their leadership stand. That’s part and parcel to deciding whether or not to support a brand as a customer, investor or employee. A shift in what and how business leaders communicate brings both responsibility and opportunity for their organizations and has ushered in a new era of thought leadership. Too often, however, what passes for thought leadership is the occasional CEO interview, panelist slot or blog post. That approach (or lack thereof) leaves too much on the table and risks leaving it to others to define your brand’s purpose. If business leaders don’t assume the role of narrator, others will do it for them.

Effective thought leadership calls for a sustained, multi-channel, multi-faceted approach. Done right, it takes management buy-in, investment, planning, flexibility, and integration with other front-footed communications. Its outcomes can and should be measured. That has always been our view and way of operating at 360 and it’s why we are launching 360PR+ AGENDA, codifying our approach to thought leadership.

360PR+ AGENDA is guided by a process of discovery and differentiation. Discovery lays the foundation, during which business and communications objectives are aligned, opportunities, threats and adjacent topics are identified, and stakeholder and competitive insights are explored. Differentiation ensures an authentic, ownable platform that will cut through and add value for stakeholders, and can serve a variety of goals, from attracting new customers, investors or employees to helping longtime stakeholders understand how and why a brand or organization is evolving. 

“Leaders need to get the word out about the organization’s vision in multiple ways – and keep the message going. It’s part of why communication is so important for leaders.”


Putting in place a proactive thought leadership (or executive communications) plan has another benefit: it provides the framework for responding to the news of the day, whether that news is something brands can celebrate or presents a challenging issue that shouldn’t go unaddressed. While a social issue or global event may fall well outside of your organization’s domain of expertise, there’s still an important role to play – conveying support, mobilizing resources, and acting as clarifier for stakeholders. Every communication comes with some risk but, in most instances, there’s greater risk to not communicating. The key is to understand the issue, from all sides, before jumping in. You can moderate communications, too, prioritizing internal audiences first, for example.

Having clarity about what your brand should communicate in a given situation, steeped in an understanding of brand values – what your brand should always say and do and never say or do – undoubtedly leads to better outcomes. The process to get there can also be a unifying and catalyzing one for internal stakeholders. Thought leadership has the potential to move business by both deepening stakeholder engagement and attracting new audiences. As you consider priorities for the year ahead, consider how thought leadership can play a role or a stepped-up role – perhaps paving the way for entry into a new market sector or asserting brand authority in an existing one, protecting and advancing market share. No doubt you already have many of the right ingredients for thought leadership – they just need to be strategically knit together and leveraged.

To learn more about 360PR+ AGENDA services and case studies, contact Mike Rush, EVP & Partner,

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