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Why the goals of thought leadership are changing

Thought leadership has long been a popular tool for building brand reputation, but according to a recent study, the reasons for, and goals of, thought leadership are changing. The UK leading brands surveyed for Linstock Communications’ report, Beyond a Buzzword: Thought Leadership Evolves, say they expect to depend more on thought leadership, but have changing demands:

  • Half (50%) believe that providing a fresh perspective and shaping new thinking will become one of the three most important reasons for undertaking thought leadership – a jump from 32% today.
  • The proportion who see the need for thought leadership to raise brand awareness will drop to 38% in the future, from 65% today.

Change in purpose of thought leadership over the next decade

Time to lead
Discussing how the purpose of thought leadership is changing, Simon Maule, director at Linstock Communications, says: “Whereas once it was largely about brand awareness, organisations now recognise the importance of providing a genuinely fresh perspective and being seen to set the agenda.

Using influencers
“Over the next decade, firms expect to collaborate much more closely with clients and prospects, working together to develop content that is insightful and practical. And, by working in partnership, thought leadership helps firms to secure loyal advocates – interested parties who are much more likely to amplify new content, both online and offline.”

Business goals
Accountability and return on investment, are not surprisingly, growing in importance. Maule says: “The research also shows that thought leadership is increasingly being used as a tool to align communications with business goals. By taking a long-term perspective which explores pressing industry challenges, thought leadership helps to open up new commercial conversations by talking about the issues that matter. Business outcomes are becoming more important than communications outputs.”

It might be a traditional communications tool, but this study highlights that it is a robust one. As Maule says: “The fact that nearly half a million people worldwide have thought leadership in their title is further demonstration that the term is much more than a buzzword”.

Linstock surveyed 80 Board members and communications/PR heads/directors/practitioners from sectors including financial and professional services, third sector, higher education and the public sector during May and June 2017.

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