Thought leadership: Make Waves Like an Olympic Great

by Chris Fairbairn

Friday, April 7th, 2017

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The real reason one of our Legal PR clients was able to benefit from a golden week of highlights

Legal PR Dame Katherine Grainger Chris Fairbairn

“PEAK performers in the world of sport, especially Olympic gold medallists, were rarely that naturally gifted kid that scooped up all the medals at school sports day.”

The above message was one of the most powerful insights offered up by Team GB’s most decorated female Olympian, Dame Katherine Grainger – at an intimate talk hosted recently by our client Gilson Gray.

As the legal firms’ PR partner, two of our own Holyrooders, Stuart and Chris had the privilege of being in the select audience for the words of wisdom from a true sporting great.

Now we can’t claim to offer a highlights reel to match that of the enigmatic Scottish rower (who quite astonishingly managed medals in five consecutive games).

However, we were able to reflect on some of the lessons from the day – especially when it comes to helping those at the beating heart of a business to become ‘thought leaders’.

It is the heavy lifting behind the scenes that really counts

Dame Katherine Grainger Legal PRLike Dame Katherine, whose moments of glory were borne out of the months of careful and rigorous training and preparation – so too does establishing a client as a leading name, offering knowledge and insight in the sector.

We’re talking about the types of brands that are looked to enviously by their peers and – let’s be honest – the scourge of those not quite sure how they manage it.

Firstly, those brands are in that position because they, or their PR/communications agency, have been savvy enough to know that their people can offer up pearls of wisdom worthy of features in the press.

But it isn’t just a moment or two of inspiration needed to make this happen – it can be months of planning.

And here is the bit that many PR agencies will perhaps neglect to tell you – be prepared for a lot of knock-backs and disappointments along the way too. Like those super-men and women at the top of the podium, it isn’t plain sailing all the way.


PR agency in Edinburgh show how they can present you as a thought leader in your industryThe modest person’s guide to becoming a ‘Thought Leader’ without being a blowhard – how sharing your expertise can help grow your business


The secret supplement

We don’t profess to be experts in your line of work, we leave that to you. The very reason we represent such a diverse range of clients across all manner of subjects is because we are storytellers. We dig out the yarns and we know how to tell them to the world.

A part of that can also mean that we can identify when a character is needed – a situation needing an expert opinion to ‘help’ a journalist or feature writer out and get the client a valuable name-drop in reward.

Furthermore, our close relationship with the Scottish press means that we regularly receive broad requests for help – and it could be a brand just like yours that fits the bill.

Keeping with Gilson Gray, a full service legal firm boasting experts across a range of topics, there is no shortage of fitting characters. Although not every approach will result in success, by being consistently interesting, insightful and reliable, eventually journalists will increasingly use that valuable content – and even make the initial approach – looking for the comment from that trusted source.

The moments of glory

Sometimes, just sometimes, weeks of planning can culminate in a series of articles in a short space of time that gives the illusion of a real surge.

The reality – and in the case we’re about to present – is that more often or not, this is the result of that important background work that takes weeks, if not months.


Gilson, Gray and Dame Katherine Grainger- Legal PR StoryGet the full breakdown of Gilson Gray’s week of thought leadership coverage, reflecting its expanding brand presence across highly influential press


Given all the planning and behind the scenes work that takes place to establish a leading public brand, how fitting that the very sportswoman we featured earlier in this post was central to the first piece of important coverage for Gilson Gray.

A visit from an Olympic great

For not only did we attend the talk by Dame Katherine, but we also interviewed her and arranged professional photography – to create an eye catching package that we then successfully ‘sold in’ to the press.

This resulted in a stunning feature in print and online in The Scotsman, landing on the Tuesday. That feature, closely off the back of big press from its major Edinburgh expansion further highlighted Gilson Gray’s influence, through its affiliation with the multiple world champion.

Herald: Legal Focus

Following swiftly on the back of the Scotsman feature was a major coup that had taken weeks to line up – an extensive interview between Managing Partner Glen Gilson and Margaret Taylor, Legal Editor at The Herald, for a page lead insight.

This provided the business readers of The Herald a direct insight with Glen Gilson, to really learn about the plans for growth and the stories at the heart of the firm’s rapid ascent.

The Times Legal Pages

With Gilson Gray now represented in arguably the two most respected papers within the business community in Scotland – with major and separate features in the same week – we were delighted to land an exclusive comment platform in The Times.

We assisted Associate at Gilson Gray, Keith Anderson with pulling together a feature on his experience helping facilitate takeovers at struggling football clubs from Rangers to St Mirren – and the direct lessons this has for businesses facing up to potential hard times ahead.

Like the Herald interview feature that we facilitated earlier in the week, this article had taken a long lead in time, knowing that the national legal pages of The Times are in such high demand.


Tech PR Success for CommsworldEach of these articles not only yields highly valuable coverage in their own right, but Gilson Gray, like our client Commsworld, has an increasing reach on Linkedin – read how these types of articles are driving engagement from the business community


The finish line

To achieve true thought leadership and industry recognition as the ‘go-to’ source of opinion and good practice, your business needs to start thinking like the Olympic greats – and be prepared for the hard yards.

Thankfully, our agency has built its reputation of being the performance boosting supplement that can help you reach the professional summit.

It is time for you to be the person your competitors glance at with burning envy.

Looking to boost your brand’s public and industry-wide profile – or interested in Legal PR?

Get in touch with our team of corporate communicators and join clients such as CALA Homes, Scottish Water and Commsworld. Get in touch on 0131 561 2244 or by using the form below:

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Chris Fairbairn of Scottish public relations agency, Holyrood PR in Edinburgh

Chris Fairbairn

Chris Fairbairn is a PR account manager with award-winning public relations agency Holyrood Partnership. He is part of an expert PR team delivering PR services to a wide range of clients from headquarters in Edinburgh, Scotland.

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