Leading thoughts on thought leadership

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Leading thoughts on thought leadership

October – 2016

  • Newsletter

By Hamish Anderson, Group Account Director

Does thought leadership still have relevancy and value in a world awash with content choices?

That was the question posed by Barrett Bingley, an Associate Director with The Economist Group, at a recent Public Relations Institute of New Zealand (PRINZ) presentation attended by senior members of our Auckland team.

Bingley shared the findings of Thought Leadership Disrupted, a recent Economist Group study of 1,600 executives around the world who consume or produce thought leadership content.

Three in five executives surveyed said both the volume and intrusiveness of thought leadership content had increased, and 75 per cent had become more selective about the content they read as a result.

The study also found that 96 per cent of executives who consume thought leadership content like to encounter thoughts and ideas that go beyond their current thinking – they like to be challenged.

In other words, as communications professionals we need to work harder and smarter so the audience reads and engages with our content.

So what are the secrets of great thought leadership?

  1. Compelling thought leadership is:
    1. Innovative
    2. Big picture
    3. Credible – i.e. based on solid, original research
    4. Transformative
    5. Audience-centric – i.e. not about you!
  2. The best thought leadership creates both engagement…

  1. ... as well as results


Poor thought leadership, on the other hand, tends to be:

  1. Superficial
  2. Sales-driven
  3. Biased
  4. Jargon-laden

Some thought leadership needs to work harder than others to achieve cut-through, for example if you are a challenger brand seeking to build trust and credibility. In this situation the quality and nature of your research is critical – it needs to be a source of hard facts.

The Economist study also considered the barriers to producing good thought leadership content:

  1. 60 per cent said lack of internal alignment or buy-in held them back
  2. Failure to learn from results – 80 per cent said they’d still boost content volumes despite less than 20 per cent of their content actually creating engagement
  3. Not involving the right people in planning, such as communications professionals, media partners and customers.

The study’s findings are a salient reminder that the emergence of digital channels, while resulting in a great range of choice for content consumers, has also created an explosion of (mostly average) content. It’s ever more important to heed these lessons and stay focused on creating content that engages the audience and drives business results.

If you’re interested in reading more about the study please visit http://tldisrupted.com/

[Image credits – The Economist Group]