Thought leadership is one of the oldest – and most effective – practices in the books for PR and marketing programs but in recent years it seems to be wrapped in with the latest content marketing fad. “We need more thought leadership!” screams senior leadership. So, marketers and their content developers run off and produce oodles of generic content marketing pieces and then slap an executive’s name on it. While that’s fine for a company blog or resources page, it doesn’t pass the smell test for true thought leadership.
The basis of thought leadership includes developing meaningful ongoing content that reflects the thought leaders’ real and diverse opinions. The thought leader shouldn’t only address “how” a particular problem is solved but also “why” it needs to be solved. Above all, thought leadership pieces need to explore more than a thinly veiled attempt at self-promotional, benefits-statement content; they should clearly illustrate to their audience why they should care. Also thought leaders do not become established after just one or two published pieces or speaking gigs, but rather after a series of well-planned and well-thought campaigns — which often take months or years to build. Ultimately, the goal of building thought leaders is not only to help drive sales and awareness within the organization but to push the overall market forward.