Including: Using “ideal” vs. “nightmare” to develop your own thought leadership index.
by Katie Delahaye Paine
There’s nary an organization out there these days that wouldn’t like its internal gurus and experts to be considered thought leaders in their industry or marketplace. CEOs, CTOs, Chief Scientists, Professors, economists -- all are being media-trained, groomed, and speaker-trained to write/speak/blog about key issues that affect the business. As a result, these busy executives are increasingly wondering (as they stand in yet another airport security line) whether it’s worth all the travel and the effort. But developing effectiveness measures for thought leadership programs is anything but simple.
Ideally, an organization would have a sophisticated enough CRM system to track any leads generated from the speech or blog, all the way through to purchase. Lacking such a system, corporate communications types are increasingly looking for easier (or cheaper alternatives). In my book Measuring Public Relationships, I suggest a variety of metrics including cost per minute spent with prospect, cost per lead acquisition, and share of conversation about key issues.
But if you want some quick and dirty techniques that won't break your budget, here are four of them. First, develop your own Thought Leadership Index to track and compare print, broadcast and blog coverage. Then track print, blogs and Twitter to see what influence your experts are having. Ideally, you should use all of them together to give an overall picture. Using these four techniques over time will help you to determine if your thought leader program is having an increasing or decreasing impact on the issues that critical to your business.
Ideal vs. Nightmare Coverage: Your Very Own Thought Leadership Index
In chatting with numerous corporate communications pros over the past few months, I’ve learned that when launching a “thought leadership” program, the immediate goal is media pick up of the organization's point of view. So I asked a few of them what success would look like.
The answers frequently included “positive coverage,” “pick up of our approach to a solution to xyz problem,” and “leadership positioning on xyz issues.”
So it occurred to me that most of these programs have an ideal story or blog posting in mind. And, they probably have a worst nightmare scenario as well. So why not develop a Thought Leadership Index (similar to KDPaine & Partners' Optimal Content Score) that allows you to compare your results in print, broadcast and blogs? So, here is the way to rate your coverage as to how close to ideal it is. The closer to ideal your coverage is, the more effective your thought leaders are.
Start by making a list of all the things you’d like to see in the media coverage:
- Positive or neutral tone of article
- Mention of a key battle or issue
- Mention of one or more key messages
- Mention in a headline
- Inclusion of a video or photograph.
Now make a list of what your worst nightmare of media coverage is:
- Prominent or dominant mention of the competition or the competition's thought leaders
- Positioning of the competition as a leader and/or positioning of your company as a laggard or follower
Neither of those scenarios is likely to show up very often; most of your mentions will fall somewhere in between. So put together a spreadsheet that weights each of those elements. See the sample below. Now when you review the stories that include your thought leaders you can score each one as to how close it comes to the perfect fantasy article or the worst nightmare scenario.
In adapting the sample below to your needs, the client weights the various elements according to what matters to them. The final score for an article goes into the ultimate monthly OCS index number. You add up the individual scores for all the items analyzed and divide by the total number of items. That’s your index score for the month.
How much brand engagement are your thought leaders generating on blogs and websites?
Use Google Analytics or whatever web analytics system you are using and track the following engagement statistics on the blogs or web sites that your thought leaders are contributing to:
- Unique visits
- Repeat visits
- Rss feeds
- Track backs
How much are the bloggers paying attention?
Check to see if the influential bloggers are mentioning your thought leaders. Collect the following data points:
- Authority rank of linkers (via Google, Technorati, Twitalyzer or TweetLevel)
- Number of Linkbacks to your pages
- Number of Subscribers to your pages
- Number of Appearances on blog rolls
How much are they paying attention on Twitter?
Finally you need to see if any other industry influencers are paying attention to your thought leaders. Set up a column in TweetDeck with a search on the topic or issues your thought leader is an expert on. See who is writing or talking about that topic and then use Twitalzyer to determine his/her authority. Set up a Google or SocialMention search for the topic to see who the influencers are on that issue.