Effective thought leadership through measurement, digital and partnerships

Weber Shandwick hosted a breakfast briefing on measuring the effectiveness of thought leadership. Steve Blundell, Managing Director of Redstone Consultancy; Patrick Harrison, Director of Reputation Management and Strategic Media Relations at Weber Shandwick; Liz Keller, Head of Strategy at Flipside Group, all contributed insight on the topic, with Jon McLeod, Chairman of CFPA at Weber Shandwick chairing the discussion.

With increasing amounts of client time and spend devoted to thought leadership, never has there been a more appropriate time to consider how to measure the effectiveness of such efforts. A combination of measurement, digital and strategic partnership hold the answer to successfully implementing a thought leadership programme. On Wednesday, Weber Shandwick welcomed three keynote speakers to shed further light on this significant topic.

Measuring thought leadership effectiveness is vital

Measuring the impact of thought leadership is indisputably significant in order to justify spending on it as well as understanding the business value it offers. Steve Blundell, Managing Director of Redstone Consultancy, shared the various KPIs that his firm’s BrainBox dashboard analytics system measure for.

He explained that being able to track effectiveness of thought leadership, within the following qualitative categories of awareness, interest, exploration and edge, provides real insight, in turn strengthening the understanding of performance.

Steve went on to cover particular areas of tension that can arise during the process of thought leadership creation and distribution. For example, mediating between taking a stance on particular topics of relevance and fears that this might hurt business interests in the future. This is most relevant to topics that become polarised, with several, competing positions forming within an industry. He focused on why these arise and what businesses can do to overcome them when planning their thought leadership approach.

Use mobile and digital to drive engagement

The prominence of mobile technology within our lives is undeniable; understanding how to use it to bolster thought leadership is a critical stage in producing effective content. Liz Keller, Head of Strategy at Flipside Group gave some insightful tips on how this can be achieved.

Thinking strategically about how to utilise digital as well as aiming content at the C-Suite is vital she argued. Digital forum saturation and the time-poor nature of CEOs combine to heighten the need for strategy to mediate this fiercely fought after audience on over-populated domains. Flipside Group offer solutions to gain cut-through on digital as well as the attention of the key audiences for thought leadership. Two such solutions were, aiming content at those just below the boardroom level who might have more time to digest long form content and then circulate a summary internally and also considering how to target the C-Suite through their personal social media accounts.

Be strategic when selecting your thought leadership partner

With an idea of content and how to effectively use digital channels to distribute thought leadership, considering how partnership can further increase the credibility of the piece is the logical next step. Patrick Harrison added his thoughts on the matter.

Developing thought leadership with the aid of a partner certainly adds credibility but choosing the right partner who will truly add value needs expertise. Patrick explained that typical partners can come from academic institutions, business schools, think tanks, polling organisations and trend watchers. Choosing who, from this plethora of potential partners, to select can be problematic which is where strategic counsel can really aid this decision-making. Taking time to think about the political inclination, specialities and agenda of each institution as well as what the different partner-types can offer, will enable partnerships to help successfully deliver the objectives of the piece.

Coming away from the event, the value of measurement to take thought leadership performance, the role of mobile in driving engagement and the thought process behind finding the perfect partner to amplify the credibility of thought leadership really came to the fore. To receive the powerpoint presentation from the event, or for further information on any of these topics, please contact us:

Jon McLeod, UK Chairman of Corporate, Financial and Public Affairs, Weber Shandwick: JMcleod@webershandwick.com