It has become something of a truism in Content Marketing that any materials produced must be relevant and of value to the intended audience; LinkedIn and Edelman's research suggests that the top property of thought leadership is that it helps the reader with a problem they have right now. This essentially argues that delivering specialist information is of greater value than generalist information.
The LinkedIn research is from a survey canvasing people's opinions but I thought it'd be interesting to have a quick look at the performance of specialist vs generalist publishing companies over time to see whether these opinions are validated by stock price performance.
The companies I selected to represent generalist publishers were tronc; formerly Tribune Publishing, Gannett Company and The McClatchy Company, since, according to Wikipedia, they represent the three largest newspaper publishers in the US. I also added Daily Mail and General Trust because they are the publishers of Mail Online which is a hugely successful online property in terms of number of readers.
The 5-year stock price performances of the generalist publishers are:
The 5-year stock price performances of the specialists are:
As can be seen, there is a tight correlation between the five-year performance of both groups with the generalists tracking across or slightly down and the specialists more or less doubling in value.
All of which strongly supports the argument that specialist content created by experts for experts, will drive better business outcomes than content that is outsourced or is written for an ill-defined or broad audience.
The most successful thought leadership, according to the survey, exhibits the following characteristics: Relevant and Applicable: It is timely and relevant to a specific project the recipient is currently working on (63 percent of both decision-makers and C-level executives).