Are your ‘thought leadership’ posts really bringing you any real value?


Thought leadership posts and pieces are a plenty in our industry. Most communications folks can attest that at some point or another, they have been roped in to work closely with leadership teams to build a pipeline of thought leadership pieces targeted at varying audiences and stakeholders. When done right, these pieces can help grow networks, bring in clients and give your brand (and key personnel) a sense of gravitas in your chosen field of expertise.

No stranger to writing such pieces is the team at PLUS Corporate Communications, headed by Syed Mohammed Idid who shares that the team is often engaged to craft out thought leadership messages which are driven to the upper echelons of government, right through the young hearts and minds of the academia.

Syed said, “The engagement through the multitude of platform’s in amplifying our through leaders permeates the societal universe and ultimately cupidifies itself into the hearts of decision makers and customers.”

“Winning hearts and minds will eventually lead to trust, which impacts growth and sustainability thereby propagating a healthy bottom line that enables business continuity,” he shared.

While Syed’s words will resonate with many PR professionals in similar functions working in tandem with leadership teams, quantifying the impact of these pieces is never easy.

Karen Yew, group chief communications and branding officer at Surbana Jurong shared that numbers such as views on website and social media are tracked for a broad indication of engagement. “But it’s when clients and partners connect with experts to explore more that we know a piece has made an impact,” she said, adding:

Our C-suite and other experts recognise the value of thought leadership – it establishes us as a leader rather than a follower, it conveys unique and it builds brand and personal reputation.

Lack of standardised process

Yet, to date the communications industry still lacks a standardised process and practice to measure communications outcome, say industry players we speak to. So in a world where data and numbers dominate, how do PR professionals justify the impact of their work?

Should we simply resort to the counting the likes and shares, or is there a way to actually tie these pieces to tangible impacts on the business?

According to Carol Wee, communications director of Dentsu Singapore, understandably, there is a demand for quantifiable impact to justify resource and effort put into any thought leadership work. But arguably, there has not been any holistically credible measurement that can accurately reflect the impact of most thought leadership work.

As such, organisations that place too much emphasis on quantifying performance run the risk of misreading the real impact of such efforts – some of which maybe be inflated, others under-estimated – while putting unnecessary stresses on existing resources within the team to report on these numbers, she shared.

Echoing her sentiments, Shouvik Prasanna Mukherjee, chief creative officer, APAC for the Golin Group, who also heads the agency’s Creative Intelligence Team, shared that while there are plenty of measurement tools out there can track a diverse array of data, but it still requires a strategic framework to make sense of that data.  

This led to the Golin Singapore team creating a new solution  titled the Executive Impact Matrix, which uses first data-driven solutions to analyse the business impact that executive thought leadership delivers.

According to Mukherjee, the matrix determines a leader’s overall standing against industry peers by generating an Executive Impact Score (EI Score), which then informs the areas that need to be focused on when developing a communications strategy to build an executive’s reputation.  The scores are based on:

  • ‘Business Fundamentals’ are values that drive revenue, including business performance, customer focus, employee development, employee wellness, ethics and trust, innovation, product and service quality and safety;
  • ‘Foresight’ are technical initiatives that ensure the company’s future success, such as digital transformation, future proofing, and privacy and security;
  • ‘Connection’ keeps brands and their leaders relevant, progressive and in touch with the ecosystems and communities in which they interact, including diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI), social purpose and sustainability.

What are the long term impacts?

It is important to remember that thought-leadership cannot thrive on its own, but rather it is part of an eco-system that is tied to overall reputation and strength of product and services, among others, said Wee. She added, “The most credible thought-leadership work is purpose-built to achieve the long term and sustainable impact of anchoring the organisation and its people as trusted partners with deep expertise.”

Moreover, the fundamental success of thought leadership is the leader themselves.

“Is the leader credible in his/her ability, and track record? How well accepted is he/she in the community? These are all questions communications professionals must ask prior to the beginning of the work. One non-negotiable ingredient for a well-respected thought leader is integrity. Today being authentic is like a warm sun on a cold breezy day, such value will bring the thought leader far and his or her message even further…because it’s just so solidly believable and honest,” he added.

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Read More: Are your ‘thought leadership’ posts really bringing you any real value?

2022-08-10 19:25:03

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