Thought leadership must tell a genuine story
A few years ago, Amy O'Meara, Amnesty International's USA Director of Business and Human Rights, had the following message forbusinesses: 'Show us that you are trying...and we will take you seriously and work with you over time to help you become socially responsible. It's cool to be green but don't exaggerate...have a genuine story to tell."
For me,in those few sentences aimed at companies and their corporate social responsibility programs, she inadvertently delivered a message to prospective thought leaders and companythought leadership programs -have a genuine story to tell.
True thought leadership absolutely is about being genuine. The quick-fixresearchpackaged as thought leadership in order to drive a bit of media coverage really isn't going to cut it in the long run. It may help drive a great PR campaign but please don't label itas thought leadership.
There are some excellent examples of companiesthathave well and trulyintegrated their thought leadershipinto their businesses,aligned them with their values as an organisation and importantly linked them tothe needsof theircustomers. They do it because they genuinely care about the issues and challenges their customersface.
In the process theytake one step ahead of the competition and set themselves apart as the 'go to' experts in their field.
Without a genuinue story to tell, this very quickly falls short as the conversations you, your business leaders and your sales staff have with your customers will not reflect the depth that a true thought leadership position should deliver in the chosentopic in yoursector.
Those campaigns with genuine intentreap real, long-term benefits:
- They gain a unique position in the market and create excellent word-of-mouth.
- They help mitigate brand risk
- Ina crisis, customers tend togive you thebenefit of the doubt forlonger
- They cement your position with your customers and create better brand stickiness
- They can even act as a great talent magnetas your brand becomes synonmous with innovation
- Is it genuine i.e. goes it go to our values and what we want to be as a business?
- Is it compelling for our customers/clients i.e. does it deliver them insights to help them?
- Is it compelling for our own staff?
- Will it differentiate our brand from our competitors?
- Is it something on which we can deliver?
- Does it have senior management buy-in?
- Does it have a champion/s?
- Can we put budget behind this?
- What are the measurement criteria?