Every year we conduct our legal thought leadership report into how the top law firms in the US and the UK compare for thought leadership. We benchmark the top 100 firms in each region and look at their written insights, their presence on social media and their use of video etc.
Every year we see tens of thousands of blog posts and articles, podcasts and videos, and the same question always comes up.
What is Thought Leadership?
Put simply, thought leadership is industry expertise, shared with a broader audience for the purpose of educating, improving and adding value to the industry as a whole.
Some firms call these insights, some label them expertise and others might group this into industry news. Whatever the label, there is a relatively simple three-part test here to conduct to determine thought leadership.
1. It must be useful to the market at large
Most companies have some sort of section on their site for announcements and information on the latest at the firm. These news items are usually about changes in staffing, offices or firm policy. As such they are useful to some but aren't improving and adding value to the industry as a whole and so are not thought leadership.
That is not to say that your thought leadership must be useful to everyone, or even to an entire industry. It does have to be useful to those outside of your list of clients and partners.
2. It must add value, educate and improve the industry
Simply curating the latest news and developments in your industry is a useful thing for your clients, but it is not thought leadership. Adding value and insight to the news stream is what elevates content from curation to thought leadership.
3. It must be attributable to your firm & your brand
People share useful insights with the world every day, but there is a deliberacy and an intent behind thought leadership content that sets it apart from people simply sharing their thoughts.
With thought leadership, there is an expectation that as the content provides value to the industry the content also builds the brand of the firm, its people and the offering. Without the most basic of brand and marketing infrastructure around content, it fails to provide the very strategic benefit that led people to coin the term "thought leadership".