Why thought leadership doesn’t really exist

Technical PR agencies and marketing folk generally love to use to phrase thought leadership. I admit that I’m also guilty of this particular sin; mainly because there is no phrase that means the thing we actually want thought leadership to mean in a B2B environment.

But the reality is that the concept is such an intangible, old fashioned and difficult to pin down phrase that it’s mostly meaningless.

For instance, companies will say, ‘we want to be a thought leader in our space’. But can one really be a thought leader? Shouldn’t there only be one leader of any particular thought? Or at least just a few? Not everyone with a PR agency can be a thought leader surely?

OK, so maybe I’m being a bit flippant, but the fundamental point stands. If one can’t define what one means by thought leadership, then it may as well not exist. And if you can define it, then is ‘thought leadership’ really the correct term for the bundle of goals you have created?

One PR industry thinker who has done some work towards a valid definition is Julia Hood, over on PR Week US. She makes some very valid points about the way thought leadership PR tactics (There you go again – using a phrase which only has individual meaning, derived entirely from the values you attribute to it - Ed) can have value after the fact, to help reinforce a customer’s decision to buy from you.

The things we do to help achieve thought leadership are, by and large, valid tactics. However, I think we should be more aware of why we are doing them.

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Richard Stone

Stone Junction is a cool technical PR agency based in Stafford. We work for all sorts of businesses, with a particular focus on technology, technical and engineering companies. We like being sent cake and biscuits by clients, journalists and prospects.

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