Once you have the right people involved in your thought leadership initiative - it's time to make a plan. At Passle, we've seen thought leadership succeed (and fail) based on the strength of a plan.
From that experience, we've identified a few key components that a thought leadership plan needs to have to be successful:
Make your plan visible and accessible
No-one will stick to a plan they don't know. It's really as simple as that.
A plan needs to be visible and accessible to the rest of the team. We use the live calendar below here at Passle, but there are so many examples around of good content calendars around.
Promote this calendar internally. We recommend a monthly or weekly email that summarises the key expectations for the next time period, as well as any good news from the last round of content.
Bring authors on board by anchoring to their goals
It's almost a rite of passage for marketers working in thought leadership, we spend hours on a beautifully crafted strategy that unfortunately is never executed.
A plan starts with understanding the goals of your authors, you need to know what they hope to achieve. The thought leadership plan is just a way to remind yourself and them that they need to be demonstrating their knowledge as a way of achieving those goals for themselves and the firm.
These might be "opportunities" eg- clients or targets that the author is trying to win business from. These goals could also be timely events such as large conferences or trade shows you are committing to - it can be useful to get a content goal in place with conference attendees before allocating marketing budget to their trip.
You'll see below that rather than content "themes" or things that marketers want, our calendar is anchored to the goals and activities of the authors.
Have clear topics, dates, and authors
In practice, a plan needs to let authors know what their content commitments are. It should also give you as the marketer the ability to follow up on content, send reminders and predict the amount of content coming into your pipeline. If any of these pieces are missing - you don't get the content.
You need a date, usually within a week works and is flexible enough to allow the author to fit it around a schedule.
You need a specific person writing the content - a team or function isn't enough.
You also need a topic, this doesn't have to be exact at the time of writing the calendar but you should have a general idea of what the content will be about that you'll receive.
You must be the coach
Finally, any plan is only as good as the vision and commitment of the person in charge. As a marketer - that's you. You don't need to be doing everything yourself, but it is your job to put the right people in the right place at the right time with the right vision to get the content you need.
We have found this to be particularly successful with partner (or equivalent) buy-in to the project, the level of accountability can be much stronger coming from a peer rather than a marketing or business development function.