This is the second in a series of two posts by guest blogger Meg Wrixon (click here to read Part 1 of this series). Meg is Group Communications and PR Manager at WSP, Sydney, where she runs an Asia Pacific thought leadership program. WSP is a global sustainability engineering firm.
My content conundrum was only going to be solved if I could convince people of the value of online content. I wanted a group of passionate individuals who truly understood the benefit of communicating in this manner: people who would see benefits of raising their profile in the market as a thought leader.
Looking closer at who would be most suited to this program, I realised that ‘the ego is your best friend’. So, I flipped the program on its head. I made it all about them, with the brand following closely in their wake.
I explored career progression within professional services and concluded that usually it’s a clear pathway. Eventually, a technical expert must relinquish their technical expertise in order to move up the ranks. They are placed in a ‘management role’, often with limited training or mentorship to perform well in the role. Sadly, many lose their original passion and motivation as they gradually veer away from their area of expertise.
I set up our thought leadership program first and foremost as a career development framework. It recognises that for a senior technical expert, management is not the only next step. Through this program, they can become a technical authority: a thought leader.
I have become a coach (some say a mentor) within the business, working with those who have the will and the smarts to become a thought leader. I work with their strengths (e.g. good speakers, writers, technical heads) and help them to develop in areas of weakness. The coaching I provide extends further into a team of professionals, with the thought leader inviting members to contribute through research and formulation of new ideas and opinions.
I consult with all areas of the business to identify hot topics worthy of communicating to clients. I develop their ideas and opinions into thought-leadership articles, and release material to clients, media and conference organisers using e-broadcasts. The topic is then run as a ‘campaign’ – that is, the content is re-purposed across a range of communication channels, with the language and tone tailored to the audience we’re communicating with. This is scheduled across a communications campaign calendar annually, taking into account all business areas, including employment brand.
Piloted first in ANZ and now set to be rolled out across APAC (including Greater China), the program is in its infancy, but the results are already undeniable.
For the company, the benefits are clear. We’ve gained more media space, greater and higher-level speaking engagements, increased and trackable business-development leads and conversions – to name but a few. The most interesting result has been the positive cultural impact on a team that has a thought leader at its helm. Teams gain further learning and development, and often have a greater sense of pride and respect in their leader, peers and the company.
So that’s all well and good, but getting back to basics: does it solve the content conundrum?
I’m pleased to say that I’m often rolling in good-quality content and ideas. People are beginning to approach me to find out how they can get a piece of the pie. And thankfully, I’m no longer in the position of perennial ‘nagger’.
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