Business Communications — 19 July 2012
The 3 key challenges of leveraging your thought leadership internally

In my last post on Firebrand’s blog I wrote about the power of using thought leadership for motivating and inspiring employees and the role it can play in your retention and talent attraction strategy.

While your own people are your best thought leadership ambassadors, there are three challenges a company faces when driving the best possible outcomes for its thought leadership internally:

1. Thought leadership Engagement – have you made sure that your senior leaders and executives are engaged in your thought leadership position? Bear in mind that without their engagement, you will have a problem with your campaign not only internally but also externally. Typically it will be short-lived, it will miss the gravitas of senior commitment, you will probably struggle to excite your internal and external target audiences about your point of view, and you will make limited inroads into making thought leadership part of the culture of your organisation.

And when it comes to that all important criteria, measurement, you will battle to convince your executives about its efficacy.

2. Thought leadership Connectivity – first, are you using your thought leadership campaign effectively by connecting the threads across sales, marketing, human resources, finance, etc? Second, has the campaign been set up to facilitate your key client-facing employees connecting in a meaningful way with your thought leadership material so they take it confidently to market?

The thought leadership internal journey is as important as the external. Your biggest risk is for your thought leadership material to be perceived by your own people as ineffectual; a sideshow that marketing or PR has thrust upon them and one to which they simply pay lip service at best or at worst, simply dismiss it.

3. Thought leadership Packaging – have you consulted with your sales, business development and other client facing employees about what content works with clients? Do you know what’s worked in the past? Have you bothered to consult your employees about this?

All of these are critical questions to ensure you’ve included your own employees on the thought leadership journey and that you are delivering material that will be tailored to your market.

It is also useful to research your target audiences about where they source their information, how they like to receive it, what they read, where they go online, whether they like meeting face-to-face, etc? This can be fed back to your team and used to help guide how you package and use your content to good effect.

When it comes to medium to large companies embarking on a thought leadership campaign, it is first and foremost about a change management program i.e. how you embed a culture within your organisation to think differently about your content, how to engage your team with the program, how to deliver it and how to use it to engage with your clients and prospects. The companies that do it best employ a whole of business approach and a great place to start is to address the three key questions posed above.

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