Content Marketing Writing: How to Write Thought Leadership Articles

I reread the email three times from the brand representative. I drafted at least two different versions of polite responses turning down the project.  In the assignment letter, she had instructed that my next blog post be a “thought leadership piece” on the impact that Generation Y was having on the staffing industry and I was positive that there was no way I could pull this one off.

With a little bit of googling, I learned that thought leadership is writing an article or blog post that presents a unique opinion or idea on a topic. And while I had spent the past three years writing on business topics, my role was to just report what I learned from other sources, not generate new ideas. I I was very used to writing other people’s ideas, but not my own, which is why the idea of writing thought leadership put me into a panic.

But, I followed my rule of waiting 24 hours before turning down an assignment. During my cooling off period, I began to think through the article more logically and realized that I had learned a lot about human resources and business over the past years. And in many ways, I was actually an expert in my own right because of the many hours I had spent researching and interviewing the top experts in the field. So, I decided to write a rough draft and see how it turned out.

Here are the five steps I followed:

  1. Read a variety of different articles on the topic form different sources and points of view. Make sure to check out a variety of types of documents including trade articles, whitepapers and blogs.
  2. Look for statistics or studies on your topics. A great strategy for thought leadership is to base your post on a study that you found.
  3. Review your notes from interviews you have done previously on the topics.
  4. Form your own opinion and thoughts on the topic without plagiarizing your sources, but using them as input. Make sure that the position that you are taking in the post lines up with the message that the brand wants to convey.
  5. Write a rough draft on the subject without thinking about it too heavily. You can go back later and clean it up.

If you have developed a niche as a content marketing writer, then you most likely have learned a lot more about the industry than you actually realize. And since most writers are typically pretty opinionated, I am positive that you can come up with original thoughts and opinions on the topic.

So, if someone asks you to write a thought leadership piece, save yourself the agony that I went through and just sit down and just say yes. I bet you will be pleased with the result.

 

Have you written thought leadership pieces? If so, what advice would you give other content marketing writers?

Comments

  1. Hi, I so agree with you. It’s easy to quasi-research and regurgitate what other people post online. And let’s face it, many of us have done this more than once for varying reasons: either because we’re genuinely paid to report on what other people say, but also sometimes because of pure time constraints, tiredness or because we’re just not feeling that inspired.

    Also, most things have already been written about, so the chances of producing 100% unique content is tricky these days.

    But you can usually tell a blog post that’s come from the “heart” – like this one you’ve written – I really enjoyed it and read every word. When a writer’s enthusiasm comes through, and if it is supported by thoroughly researched, interesting facts and statistics, or original though processes, it immediately becomes interesting and valuable to the reader.

    Thanks for a great article, will share.

    • Jennifer says:

      Johanna, Thank you so much for the kind words and for leaving a comment. I totally agree, I much prefer reading a persons original thoughts that regurgitated information. If I don’t agree with it, it is still thought provoking and interesting.

      Let me know if there is something specific that you would like to read about on my blog. I’m working on a list of future topics and want to make sure that I’m addressing questions that my readers have.

  2. Intimidating for first timers, I agree. Bound to get rejected a few times and you continue to read.read.read. Key is, not to revert to the old article, write from scratch. Once accepted, it becomes as easy as a feature article.

  3. Hi Jennifer! I am wondering if you can provide a direct link to this article you wrote that has inspired this post? I have been reading through some of your work, and am curious. Is this the article: A Generation of Contractors – Taking a look at Gen Y work trends – See more at: http://blog.beeline.com/contingent-workforce/a-generation-of-contractors-taking-a-look-at-gen-y-work-trends/#sthash.dqK78yDp.dpuf ? Thanks!

    • Hi Monica,

      Thank you so much for reading and commenting. Yes, that is the correct article that inspired this post! Let me know if you have any content marketing writing questions or topics that you would like me to address.

Trackbacks

  1. […] and whose ideas are often cutting edge in the industry. Influencers are often asked to write thought leadership pieces, such as through a blog or column, while other influencers are used as sources by content marketing […]

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