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Successful thought leadership - quality beats quantity

By Tim Prizeman, Director - Kelso Consulting (Public Relations agency)

There are a lot of books, guides and blogs out there extolling people to make themselves thought leaders through filling up their website with "content".

In fact, there is a whole "content marketing" industry that has appeared to help you do this, measure the impact and ultimately reap the benefits.


In fact, there is a whole "content marketing" industry that has appeared to help you do this, measure the impact and ultimately reap the benefits.

But not so fast!

Most of them emphasise the importance of quantity...Umpteen tweets per day, blogs daily or at least twice weekly, articles based on rewriting stuff you've gleamed off the internet (from other people's articles!).

Maybe once upon a time, quantity triumphed over quality - after all, Google does reward those websites with greater quantity with a higher prominence.   However, it now also gives high rankings to content that is shared socially... and people aren't going to share and "like" banal material.

But nowadays, with the internet full of quality material and the amount increasing seemingly exponential each day, is it quality or quantity that matters - especially for management consultancies?

For the sorts consultants I work with, the mantra of quantity over quality has never been very convincing.

I am pleased to say that this has been echoed by a lot of credible people I have been speaking with recently.

As an aside, I am writing a book on how to do thought leadership successful (out early 2015) and as part of this I have been interviewing lots of people who I respect in this area. 

Some are with global giant management consultancies known for their thought leadership, others are independent consultants who've established themselves as thought leaders.
What has struck me is how they have all emphasised, unprompted, the need for maintaining quality (and the harm caused by allowing weak material to be distributed).

 In fact, at large firms where there are lots of reports, surveys, articles, white papers and other content being produced, the problem has been how to maintain standards (by reducing the quantity and blocking weaker content).

Strategy montageOne interviewee gave a story that is a salutary warning.  When he went out to meet the clients of his firm, one CIO at a very large PLC stated that his PA had been instructed to weed out all material from this firm, a very well known global accountancy firm, and put it in the bin without anyone seeing it. 

 Why?  Because he'd received poor quality "thought leadership" material from them in the past. 

No doubt it looked great and a lot of time and money had been spent on design and graphics.  But the insights weren't there.

So, how do you achieve quality, especially if you are a smaller management consultancy with limited time and budget?

I will be covering this in future blogs - click here to sign up for notifications, and some of the tips include:

  • Do fewer but better quality items of content (of course, you still need a certain frequency...but do take with a pinch of salt people suggesting you to do several things per week).
  • Write about areas that really interests you (that way you will enjoy it and are more likely to do it).
  • Have a really strong peer-review process to keep the quality up (and prevent anything that is not up to par) from going out.
  • Design initiatives so it is easy for you to repeat them (it is easier to repeat and improve initiatives than continually instigating doing new ones).
  • Don't think that quality = expensive.  Great research and insights can be achieved with little or no money investment (or course it can take time - but if you are an expert in your area, you should be investing it anyway).  Similarly there is plenty of expensive but bland research and content out there.

McKinsey has done pretty well with its McKinsey Quarterly (established in 1964) - issued quarterly eversince and a bedrock element of the firm's success.

What is your firm doing to showcase its great people and excellent insights?  If you aren't doing enough, sign up to our webinar on successful thought leadership - the next one is in the autumn and recordings will be available afterwards.


Topics: Marketing, Content Marketing, Thought Leadership

Tim Prizeman, Director - Kelso Consulting (Public Relations agency)

Written by Tim Prizeman, Director - Kelso Consulting (Public Relations agency)

Director of Public Relations agency Kelso Consulting. We specialise in working with B2B tech companies, management consultants, financial and professional firms to help them build business-winning reputations. We do this through award-winning PR skills and a proven approach to creating high-impact thought leadership campaigns. I am the author of The Thought Leadership Manual: