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.


In this year of unspeakable campaigning-for-POTUS tumult, there’s been lots of conversation around spin.  Who has it.  Who uses it well (and who doesn’t).  Why they say what they say – and the gurus behind it.  And, yes, if the public knows it’s being manipulated.

Get real.

First, know that spin – the deliberate crafting of words and images for political effect – has been around since the early Greek orators honed their rhetoric to arouse and persuade.  Since Kings and Queens took forever to decide on a particular portrait or silhouette.  And since Teddy Roosevelt’s primitive press conferences or séances, when he’d ask six or 12 reporters to join him over a shave and food.

Second, John and Jane Q. Public have a good sense of the inauthentic and the dishonest, the promotions and the scripted laugh lines.  Behind unreadable exteriors (despite what pollsters say), Americans have a terrific capacity to resist spin, seeking and trusting the agreeable in very logical reasoning.  

And sad but true:  We’ve become immune to spin, since it surrounds us daily.  Via advertising in all media.  Through content marketing that pretends to be impartial and not devoted to specific brands and companies.   Even inside companies, when executives run town halls and informal chats, the words don’t always resonate.

Do we need a 21st century Diogenes?