Clearly research lifts lid on thought leadership today

5 June 2020 | 5 min read | News
Portrait photo of Paul MacKenzie-Cummins
Paul MacKenzie-Cummins

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A couple of weeks ago, we undertook the largest and most up to date market research into the current state of thought leadership in the UK. Over 500 business leaders took part in our study and the results lift the lid on how thought leadership content (and the producers of such content) is perceived, and how the coronavirus pandemic is shaping and will continue to influence the way in which business leaders choose the content they consume, the people they’ll hold up as industry ‘experts’ and ultimately who they’ll do business with.

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If you’d rather read than watch and listen, a transcript of the video is below.

Let me start by asking you a question, how many articles, blogs, videos and animations and podcasts have you read, watched, and listened to since the start of the Coronavirus pandemic? Chances are, a lot more than you did previously, am I right? At the same time, have you also noticed the volume of content being created has also increased by a lot more over the last few months?

There are two things at play here. Firstly, people in general have more time on their hands which gives both content producers more opportunity to focus on creating, well, content and content consumers more time to – consume this stuff. And secondly, the rise in the amount of content being produced is in direct proportion to the increased demand for sound thought leadership among business leaders and key decision makers.

At a time of great uncertainty, the answers to some of the most complex challenges and obstacles being faced aren’t always apparent. And so business leaders will seek to find solutions, guidance, ideas, hints and tips by accessing information from a range of sources – and it is those who are held up as thought leaders in their space who will command attention.

As mass consumers of thought leadership content ourselves, in addition to being one of the biggest producers of said content in the country, the sharp rise in the amount of new content flooding the market piqued our interest.

So, we set out to gain a better understanding of thought leadership both in the context of the here and now, and the way in which this is having and will continue to have an influence on how brands create and disseminate their content over the coming months and even years.

And so, in mid-May, we commissioned a team of MRS (Market Research Society) researchers to take a real-time pulse of thought leadership in the UK. 503 respondents took part, all of whom were CEOs and other c-suite executives, Managing Director’s, Heads of Department and all had budgetary responsibility. They represented organisations with 1-49 employees, and those whose workforces exceeding 500 people.

The results of the research were both fascinating and an exposé on what it means to be a thought leader and why some people become considered as such when the evidence suggest the opposite is really true? What makes a true thought leader and how the media identifies who they consider to be an expert? What business leaders look for in the content they consume and how this impacts both their perception of the brand creating the content and the likelihood of them ever doing business with them? And what are the differences between male and female business leaders in terms of how they process content and how much of it they consume? This latter point adds a whole new area for discussion to be included in the ongoing gender debate.

The results have been collated, examined and outlined in a brand-new whitepaper: Thought Leadership in the Pandemic and Post-Pandemic Era: Value or Vanity? Simply click the link associated with this post to download, read and share it.

Before you do that, consider this for one moment: if you have the time and inclination to do so, go onto LinkedIn and type ‘thought leader’ into the search box – how many results do you get?

I make it 1.2 million – yes that’s right, there are 1.2 million people who include the words ‘thought leader’ in their job title on LinkedIn. The question is, are they one… really? Take a look at the whitepaper and judge for yourself.

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