Four Strategies for Producing Effective Thought Leadership

Four Strategies for Producing Effective Thought Leadership

Written By: by Allyson Marcus, Senior Account Supervisor

Thought leadership is at the core of all that we do in business-focused public relations and marketing. By definition, thought leadership is an area of expertise that a person or a company owns. It offers a solution to a problem that is challenging an industry. Often, thought leadership is what sets a brand apart in a crowded marketplace. That is, if the brand’s thought leadership is strong, reliable and engaging.

Here are a few statistics to paint the picture of the uphill battle we are facing when it comes to thought leadership:

  • 56% of executives said that thought leadership is of no value
  • 95% of executives said that poor thought leadership lowers their opinion of a brand, and they will be less likely to hire that company
  • Only 66% of c-suite executives are proponents of thought leadership marketing

With this in mind, how can thought leadership content play a driving role in the bottom line of an organization? I recently attended the Profiting from Thought Leadership workshop in Boston, where some of the world’s leading thought leadership practitioners at firms such as McKinsey, Accenture and Fidelity Investments answered this question for a room full of PR practitioners and marketers. In simple terms, it is timely, relevant and substantive thought leadership that will move the needle, and it is the PR professional and the marketer that need to dig deep to uncover this content. This takes precision and skill.

In some organizations, this means the PR practitioner and marketer need to probe their experts and encourage thinking. In other organizations, it is important to be contrarian and push the boundaries. No matter the company, it is important for PR and marketing to use these strategies to find effective thought leadership that will push the company’s brand to the forefront:

  1. Be a gatekeeper. When every expert thinks his/her thought leadership needs to be promoted, it is essential for PR and marketing professionals to identify the thought leadership that will support and drive the company’s brand. One approach is to establish content guidelines or develop a content assessment tool, which can be an objective way to examine thought leadership for its effectiveness.
  2. Be an argument shaper. Often times, it is weighing in on industry hot topics that will put the spotlight on an organization. When a crisis strikes or an impactful event happens, encourage your experts to create and deliver thought leadership that takes a stand, takes a side and says something meaningful.
  3. Be an evidence gatherer. Sixty-six percent of executives agree that research studies are the most successful part of PR and marketing campaigns. Tap into company research and/or recent data findings when building content. Make it substantive. Dig deep to find the data points that will give your thought leader and organization a clear platform on a specific issue.
  4. Be an expert. Most importantly, all thought leaders throughout the organization should respect the direction of the PR professional and marketer. To earn respect, come prepared to your discussions with thought leaders, show them you know about their industry and provide feedback about why and how their thought leadership will or will not be effective. You are the content expert. You should be trusted to make the decisions that will drive the brand forward.

In sum, it takes planning, preparation and precision to build a meaningful thought leadership program that drives results for your company’s bottom line. With your initiative, you can change executives’ perspectives on the value of thought leadership and be the driver of your brand’s success.