A discipline in the communications game is what we call Thought Leadership. In the past two years it has been the number one consulting activity of Daymark (followed by stakeholder engagement, community engagement and communications programs for our clients).
Roughly speaking Thought Leadership is generating content which brings a unique point of view to an important community or industry issue. It adds to a discussion or debate and in turn should be a reflection of what your organisation stands for. It is of course one of those distracting buzzwords, but it does demand some common elements, of which getting data to inform the insights being the most important.
Over the past year, encouraged by our clients, we have experimented with how to capture this data, moving from general community surveys to surveys of smaller demographic groups. We have also skipped industry experts to focus on views of informed people not necessarily directly linked to a sector, and instead of examining best practice we have tested scenarios of what is leadership in a sector.
There are many and varied ways to get the insights. A lot of it comes down to how you frame the project. If we were to ask, for example, “What is my perfect country?” it shifts the frame to a world of possibilities. This is a great thought leadership topic in itself, and is being well explored in the BBC program of the same name. It’s premise: “in a world where a lot is going wrong there is also a lot going right. So what if you could build a country - with policies that actually worked?” Australia’s efforts to curb smoking have featured in the program.
Thought leadership is therefore many things, but it is always positive in its outlook. And all you need is that one insight that shifts the discussion and reinforces what you really stand for.