How Thought Leaders Can Stand Out in the Age of AI

By Erica Garman, VP of Marketing of Intero Digital,

Business professionals dedicate years — often decades — of their lives to becoming thought leaders. Why on earth are so many willing to throw away their credibility by allowing generative AI software to write content for them?

It’s a head-scratcher.

This isn’t to say that thought leaders can’t or shouldn’t leverage AI to enhance their influence, reach, and content production efforts. They can and should, for a variety of reasons. However, SMEs shouldn’t just hand over the controls to emerging AI developments.

On the contrary, all business leaders must weigh the authenticity-related and ethical consequences of using AI for content creation. That way, they can get all the benefits and value from generative AI platforms like ChatGPT and Bard without tarnishing their reputations by publishing lackluster posts, articles, and videos.

Striking a Balance: Making Smarter Content Decisions With Smart AI Products

Again, this isn’t a call for ignoring generative AI. It’s about taking the steps to use it appropriately. Thought leaders are thought leaders because of their unique experiences and expertise. AI can’t replicate those attributes no matter how “smart” AI becomes. Certainly, anything that uses AI can be an asset, but it shouldn’t become the sole vehicle a thought leader relies upon to stand out.

The truth is that AI content is very easy to spot by most human publishers, editors, and writers. And it’s quickly becoming seen as an annoyance rather than a novelty. With this in mind, thought leaders would be wise to apply a few strategies that allow them to lean into AI without giving it the opportunity to undermine their perceived integrity.

1. Understand the multifaceted risks of giving AI complete thought leadership content control.

There are countless potential risks and challenges associated with delivering so-called “thought leadership content” that has barely been seen by the thought leader. The first is a loss of genuineness. AI-fueled copy doesn’t tend to have the same connection-building spark and spunk as human-written copy does. Secondly, we can’t overlook the ethical considerations of biases and errors in AI algorithms. Thought leaders who blindly trust AI-generated data points without inserting an iota of human validation may find themselves in a difficult position later.

Another problem with AI-generated content is that it pulls from the same information as all the other AI-generated content out there without differentiation. AI doesn’t “see” a topic from a unique point of view. This is why AI copy can have a very robotic and stale feel to it rather than posing an opinion that few people have heard. (And the opinion is frequently backed up by the thought leader’s personal experiences, which is something the AI couldn’t know about.)

2. Understand the benefits of using generative AI technologies.

For all its obstacles, generative AI isn’t the perennial Bad Guy. Far from it. Thought leaders who ethically and pragmatically embrace generative AI solutions can gain advantages. For one, they’ll be more advanced than their peers who aren’t learning new skills or adapting to changing products. Nothing says “respected leader” more than someone who’s eager to dive into the latest trends, innovations, and best practices.

Another upshot to using AI as a thought leader is getting access to AI products’ hyper-fueled insights. AI can identify information that’s useful to support a thought leader’s arguments. Sure, the information should be verified, but that’s not hard to do. It’s especially not hard for an SME whose generative AI toolkit allows for super-efficient idea generation, rough draft outline construction, and more.

3. Get to know the tools on the ‘AI for thought leaders’ scene.

It’s impossible to get any boost from AI if a thought leader doesn’t know the general AI landscape. Within giving a total rundown of all viable AI options, let’s divide them up into categories, beginning with content creation and enhancement generators. These include Grammarly,, and Writesonic, all of which can be useful for developing articles, blog posts, and marketing copy. Canvia, while not an AI tool, offers additional AI-enhanced design features to improve the visual appeal of presentations and other assets.

There are so many others, too: email deployment platforms such as Mailchimp and Hubspot, and social media scheduling and analytics tools like Hootsuite and Sprout Social. Thought leaders who want to get and stay on top should pick one or two products and learn them well. (AI developers are great at providing training and instructions.) Starting slowly is the most reasonable way for thought leaders to avoid making missteps while gradually getting the most from generative AI solutions.

4. Stay within your lane.

Thought leaders have a talking point niche. It can be tempting for some to deviate from their niche because AI’s responses seem authoritative. This decision can backfire, though. Thought leaders are best served when they let AI help them go deep, not wide beyond their comfort zone. Thought leaders need to keep this in mind and not inadvertently lose their core reputation for being skilled in a specific area or industry.

The secret is to see generative AI as an assistant and not let it do all the work. AI-powered content can help thought leaders tailor their messaging and expand their influence. However, AI shouldn’t be given full rein because it can quickly erode a thought leader’s status and audience trust.

Thought leaders have sometimes spent lifetimes building their reputations, and they shouldn’t let generative AI content dull their shine. Instead, they should explore ways to leverage AI to get their unique perspectives and messages out more efficiently.

About the Author

Erica Garman, VP of Marketing of Intero Digital, an experienced marketing strategist with over 12 years of experience in digital marketing. Erica has a passion for helping brands build meaningful connections with their audiences. With a deep understanding of consumer behavior and trends, she specializes in developing integrated marketing campaigns that leverage both traditional and digital channels for maximum impact.

Tags: AI