Thought leadership's magic cube

Your thought leadership campaign should comprise four sides. Tick the box on each and like a cube, your thought leadership will present a complete and strong face.

The four sides should include the following:

  1. It should be eye-catching and topical
  2. It should say something new
  3. It should be founded in some sort of research i.e. be evidence based
  4. It should create a link to your brand
This is a short post so I am not going to go into huge detail on each but will cover the key points briefly.

1. Thought leadership material should be eye-catching and topical

How much thought leadership material do you see that is eye catching or topical?

Why not? I think it is for three reasons:

  • Not enough thought is put into it
  • It is often merely regurgitated, repackaged content
  • Some companies believe their own PR, think their stuff is great and don't give enough thought to the audience and how they will benefit from it.
2. Thought leadership should say something new

Very often this is because not enough attention is paid upfront to researching the client or their issues and challenges. The deeper you understand your client's issues the more likely it is you will provide something that means something to them and adds value to their lives new insights.

In the process you should also be researching what else is out in the market so you don't already enter a crowded space.

3. Thought leadership should be evidence based

Everyone can have an opinion. There are thousands of companies out there sharing their opinions based on their knowledge and expertise in a particular sector. Nothing wrong with that, many companies are paid top dollar for their insights. However, to truly offer something valuable to your clients and prospects, insights should be supported by robust research - preferably third party research.

Think about your business - it is a lot easier to make decisions or convince your board about decisions based on evidence or strong research as opposed to opinion.

4. Thought leadership should create a link to your brand

Be warned. Don't get this one wrong.

Your thought leadership campaign is not an excuse to talk about your products and your brand too overtly. In fact the opposite is applies - you should avoid pushing your products and company in the early stages of your thought leadership campaign. Only talk about it once the prospect starts opening the door to chat to about their issues and specific solutions off the back of what you have presented.

Remember the mere fact you, your colleagues and your brand are associated with the thought leadership piece means that you are aligned with it anyway. The psychology of this is that if you are perceived to be deeply understanding of your chosen thought leadership field you must be the expert and 'go to' company in that space.

Make sure though that your thought leadership material is clearly branded with your company and contact details and try wherever possible to get in front of your prospects to share the information.


Craig Badings has spent the past 21 years consulting to small and large brands about their public relations challenges. He is a director of leading Sydney-based financial and corporate communications consultancy, Cannings. Cannings is a member of the ASX-listed, STW Group Ltd, Australias largest communications services group. In 2009 Craig published a book on thought leadership 'Brand Stand: seven steps to thought leadership'. He believes that thought leadership is an incredibly powerful yet...

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