Of late, a number of rather elegant articles extolling the virtues of thought leadership are appearing in professional journals.

Most interviewees talk about owning issues and leading industries through these strategies, and acknowledge that, while concept peddling might not immediately ring the cash register, it will help differentiate the company from its competitors.

They also mention that, as integral to marketing (especially for service firms), thought leadership is an important way to look at the future, and shape people’s perceptions of the business and its products and services.  Rules are usually included:  Just sell ideas.  Always give it away.  Have a unique perspective.  Focus on one topic at a time.  And market it like a product with a campaign, without any viral expectations.

What they don’t mention is that thought leadership is another form of content marketing.  [Okay, maybe a higher category, but it still involves discovering and/or creating the right information at the right time.]  Similar guidelines for content marketing apply, full force.   Our top three:

  • Position this gently as intelligence, not a “we did this good” case history.
  • [Gasp!]  If needed, feel free to footnote competitors and recognize their contributions.  Sophisticated information consumers live out there.  They know.
  • Encourage use and re-use and recycling with a credit (if possible).  That’s the way your ideas will resonate.

It’s a brave not-so-new world for those who want to build their thought-leading capabilities. 

*With apologies to our fave Yankee coach and catcher.

PSST, PASS IT ON: Whaddayou watching?

By the Keurig machines.  Over cubicles.  Via Facebook or texting.

Today, everyone wants to be first ‘in’ on the latest and hottest television show – whether viewercast on cable, Web, networks, YouTube or other talking animated media.  Now, PBS’ Downton Abbey is almost passé, with Monday Mornings and Girls vying for the lead [depending on what kind of viewer you are].  Or it could be seasonal sports events or reality show suspense, usually communicating the most recent iterations in the challenge or drama.

That yen to be vision-trendy started, critics and pundits insist, with HBO’s The Sopranos (though we contend it really caught on with Mad Men).  Or fueled by the amazing trajectory of YouTube, now calculating four billion hours of eyeballs a month. 

Whatever.  More important is the convenience of choosing to listen to talented artists and intriguing series at our convenience, wherever, whenever.  There, the thanks is due to all of the above:  Folks like Dustin Hoffman and Kevin Spacey and Maggie Smith vying for small screen opportunities.  The at-your-fingertips access of old-fashioned audiovisual media, on new-fashioned instruments, from smartphones and iPads/Nooks to, maybe, Google glasses in the near future.  And the prolixity of channels, with Netflix now challenging traditional broadcast and cable TV in the production of original content.

But the whispering about watching is what’s got us thinking.  It’s more than just a conversation insert, like “what did you do Saturday night?”  It’s grown to infuse and infect our activities – perhaps in generating content à la reality shows or creating a pastiche of the 1970s’ ad era in presentations.  It has, in short, got us talking and thinking, across generations, spanning cultures and attitudes.  It represents, in short, exactly the kind of ideas we might want to adopt for internal corporate dialogues, a way to help ensure our business messages go viral in the right ways.

“If you don’t stop watching the idiot box,” as teacher Mom and retailer Dad used to warn us, “your mind won’t develop.”



Pardon us while we giggle.  Discreetly.  With our hands placed over our mouths.

              About a year or so ago, the advertising and marketing world discovered the power of content, or, as an AdAge journalist defines it:  “… straightforward, practical, even non-promotional information that plays well on social networks.”  It’s trendy, newly fledged experts explain, because it’s everything that advertising usually isn’t, driven by quality and accountability.

              Examples of content include white papers, e-books, podcasts, Webinars, bylined articles, documentaries, photographs, among others.  Examples of content’s pull impact:  Blogs that increased the number of customer contacts by 600 percent.  Online guides which indirectly resulted in $2 million in sales.  There’s even a Content Marketing Institute (shades of PR, anyone?) measuring who’s playing in this space and interpreting what it all means.

              Today, journalists are in high demand as content strategists, since they understand how to infuse a goodly amount of information and stories into all different channels.   So are former magazine editors and contributors.  Public relations and ad colleagues are now squaring off about ownership – and, more important, revenues in this era of Big Content. 

              You can almost anticipate our next series of questions:  What happened to the corporate communicators, inside and out, who have, for many years, recommended the publication of thought papers, infographics, documentaries that entertain and inform?  Or top-flight designers, so accustomed to counseling clients about toning down the obvious “corporate sell job” in words and pictures?   Name any individual who works in the business of change and leadership; chances are they, too, advise that honesty is truly the best policy, and that content, not fluff, reigns.

              To us, all this content marketing is hype about non-hype.  Content, by itself, is a very welcome direction towards the real, the authentic, and the candid.  We applaud that wholeheartedly.  [And you’re right, our discontent is showing.]