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Thought leadership content: a circular economy

Thought leadership content: a circular economy

Content marketing has been a constant in recent years that shows little sign of fading away, but are companies really making the most of the resources they have to hand? In a sea of feature articles, blog posts, email campaigns and press releases, how do you ensure your message reaches and engages the people that matter?

The answer is working in your very office – or perhaps their own – and takes the shape of the senior executive. Of course, they are unlikely to be penning content pieces themselves - that falls to the marketing and PR professionals engaged to do so – but to have them get involved in terms of opinions and information and to head up this content in the form of an attribution can pay heavy dividends on a number of levels.

Firstly, corporate brand visibility can be bolstered by actively showing your senior team’s investment in the promotion of your business and its services. How many features have you read attributed to a marketing manager? How many times have you thought – promotion is their job, this is likely to be another hard sell? Wouldn’t you be more likely to sit up and take notice if a director, VP or President of that company, for example, were to be taking the lead in voicing an opinion or addressing an industry challenge? The answer is you would, as senior execs naturally have more ‘pull’ when it comes to published content due to their position in the corporate hierarchy. ‘Maybe this piece is important – it’s written by a director of the firm so it must add value – mustn’t it?’

Which leads us to the content itself. It must indeed have something of value to convey that makes it worthy of such a high-level attribution – a strategic angle that identifies or highlights and industry trend, challenge or innovation, for example. It should position that executive as a true expert within his or her field of interest – a thought leader who can identify with the unique challenges faced within your industry and offer tangible solutions to those challenges, either via the services offered by his or her company or by valuable opinions that have the ability to shape or influence the outcomes. Give that content a face, an identity. In doing so you will not only raise the profile of your senior team, but also provide them with a more human and personable element in the wider marketplace.

This higher-level content will not only appeal to higher-level decision makers, but will also make that content far more appealing to the people who have the power to make it visible to your target audience – namely the editors and publishers of the trade press in your sector. It has long been thought that by buying advertising alone you will achieve the placements you desire within key industry publications. However, this is not always the case. In fact, more often than not the integrity of the editorial teams can be woefully underestimated. They too are trying to build a brand, and by submitting high value content you also improve the look, feel and credibility of their publication – making it more appealing to advertisers and readers in general.

Thought leadership, therefore, is like a circular economy. The company providing the content can convey their message in a non-promotional, interesting manner, at the same time raising the profile of the senior official by-lining the piece. The publisher of that content can boost the credibility of their publication or website through high-level thought-provoking editorial, increasing the probability of advertising spend overall. And, critically, the readers of that content can gain useful insights into how the challenges in their industry can be addressed and be helped on their way along a potential purchasing journey with increased confidence in your organisation.

The time has come for marketing and PR teams to knock on the doors of the boss. The results from there will speak for themselves.

by Bernard Guly