We were blown away when our recent research with Reputation Leaders revealed that 97% of executives said thought leadership has a moderate to high return on investment. It’s also noteworthy that 54% of those at the very top echelons of organizations said thought leadership has a very high ROI, and that 87% of executives said they consume thought leadership weekly.
So, we convened a webinar with Reputation Leaders founder and CEO Lawrence Evans, and Bospar Principal Curtis Sparrer, SVP Eric Chemi and Content VP Lisa Morgan to analyze these statistics, and dig into and debate current views on and common missteps with thought leadership.
Here are some of the key takeaways from the first of our quarterly Bospar Press Play webinars.
Understand that genuine thought leadership entails bringing something new to the table
Reiterating what people already know in your efforts to promote yourself is not true thought leadership. Avoid focusing on yourself. Instead, bring your distinctive point of view to the topics, trends and pain points that people really care about and are discussing and debating right now.
Good thought leadership is distinctive, thought-provoking and creates conversation, Evans says. When thought leadership does that, it gets people engaged and creates real business value.
Organizations benefit from greater awareness. Thought leaders within those organizations benefit from building their own personal brands. And the executives who share and consume thought leadership become smarter because they stay up to date on trends adds Evans.
Don’t underestimate the value of thought leadership just because it isn’t a hard sell
Thought leadership clearly opens the door to company boardrooms and C-suites. Yet although executives understand the value of thought leadership programs, not every company has a program in place – and some that do aren’t giving these efforts the proper time and attention.
Part of the challenge with thought leadership is that marketers are feeling enormous pressure to ensure their efforts drive sales, Sparrer says. That can make thought leadership a tough sell since it doesn’t completely overlap with sales and the call-to-action approach sales may desire.
But you must make a regular effort of thought leadership because your competitors are doing it, and every PR effort helps every other PR effort. For example, thought leadership on CNN might get the attention of another media outlet such as ZDnet, or vice versa, Sparrer explains. The bottom line, adds Morgan, is that a regular cadence of thought leadership is critical to moving your business forward and raising the visibility of your company and its executives.
Get visual and add a spoon full of sugar to help the medicine go down
Our research indicates that YouTube is the foremost place that leaders go for thought leadership content. This is yet another proof point that sharing thought leadership in a snackable video format can make it more appealing. Fifty-five percent said YouTube is their go-to source.
Adding a bit of levity – or something unexpected or slightly unusual – can also make thought leadership more consumable, no matter the format, Sparrer notes. Sharing serious data points and actionable advice to solve real-world problems is important. But to get people to consume thought leadership, you need to find a way to spark the interest of these folks and of the media.
The idea is to bring in a data point or narrative that elicits a human response. For example, Sparrer once did a study with Hallmark about ecards. That study yielded many serious data points. It also revealed that equal percentages of Americans expected dinner and/or sex if they sent an ecard, and that lighter narrative was what drove media interest in the larger story.
To view “The Seven Deadly Sins of Thought Leadership” webinar in its entirety, click here.
To sweeten your thought leadership and PR to drive your business forward contact Bospar.