Thought leadership: 3 concepts authentic communicators understand

Think of this, innovative content that commands national attention. I’m speaking about content that inspires the writer and resonates with the reader. It’s called thought leadership.

This is a term I had never heard of before meeting Cheryl Snapp Conner, CEO and founder of Snapp Conner PR.
I recently listened to Conner speak at the PRSSA Regional
Conference held at Utah Valley University. Her insights were focused on the relevance of thought leadership in today’s professional playing field and how being an authentic communicator lead her to become a national columnist for

A thought leader is also known as an authentic communicator. Becoming an authentic communicator is a developed skill. It begins with understanding that information carries its own weight, that reputation is the new currency and that risk means opportunity.

1. Authentic Communicators Understand Information Carries its Own Weight

There’s the notion, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” However, in authentic communications, it’s all about what you know and how you produce it. Genuine thought leadership can take what you know and lead you to who you want to know.

Authentic communicators understand that information is secondary to the primary need of meeting audience interests. To produce information that carries its own weight, ask yourself the following questions:

Does It Inspire Me?

Does the information inspire you to try something you’ve never done before? Inspiring information stimulates interest and motivates audiences to try something new. Indicate what inspires you and find a way to connect that to your audience.

Can I Teach It?

Are you able to take the content and condense it to a level that a third grader would be able to understand it? Your audience should walk away feeling informed and at an advantage for having read your content.

Is It Important to My Audience?

Does your audience care about your content? Your audience and their interests should be what inspires you. Their needs, concerns and success should be your inspiration for providing meaningful content.


2. Authentic Communicators Understand Reputation is the New Currency

Reputation is the new currency, which we must begin to learn how to finance. Product reviews trump sales and establish a reputation for companies, which determine whether the company thrives or withers.

Just as with a company, reputation precedes professionals and dictates success. Establishing yourself as an authentic communicator takes guesswork out of the details.

The authentic communicator understands their reputation isn’t based on what they think of themselves. Rather, what others say about them is what matters. Producing content that is original, both as idea and an approach, helps create a platform from which the communicator independently stands as an opinion leader.


3. Authentic Communicators Understand Not to Fear Risk

Authentic communicators get excited at the thought of risk because they view it as an opportunity to learn something new.

Where others are crippled by fear, Conner takes risks. Prior to being a contributor to, Conner consistently and boldly implemented the strategies of thought leadership. She approached her editor at Forbes, asking him for a column and ensuring him that she believed in her ability. He, too, believed in her and took the risk of presenting her with a column.

Lessons were learned along the process, but Conner’s success speaks for itself. Her column featuring Amy Morin, “Mentally Strong People: The 13 Things They Avoid”, instantly went viral. The column has continued to attract interest since it was first published in December 2013, and now is just shy of 10 million views. As a result, Conner got a book deal with Forbes.

Amy, too, has been a benefactor of the viral circus. She received a book contract with HarperCollins, “The 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do”, which was featured on

Thought leaders love risk.



Thought leadership is a game changer in communications. Authentic communicators understand the impact that innovative information has in commanding attention. There are no twists or spins. Authentic communication resonates with audiences and has lasting meaning.


Cheryl Snapp Conner is founder and managing partner of Snapp Conner PR and has launched several nationally recognized PR agencies. She is a popular speaker, author and national columnist on all topics related to business communications, entrepreneurship and PR.