The long and short of it


There seems to be an obsession with the length of thought leadership today, to the point where it’s tempting to conclude that publishers see it as a panacea for all thought leadership ills. As if to reinforce the point this seems to work both ways–longer and shorter–but overwhelmingly the trend is to pander to notions of a time-starved senior executive and create bite-sized material. It also sounds perfectly sensible.

But in our experience, length is rarely the problem. Did the makers of Avengers: Endgame sit down together at any point to discuss whether their movie needed to be 20 minutes long in order to make sure people took time out of their day to watch it? Are the makers of Candy Crush Saga worried about their ability to hold somebody’s fleeting attention for more than a few minutes? No.

We don’t use those examples glibly: While it’s unlikely that most consumers of thought leadership actually find themselves choosing between Avengers and your piece on mitigating risk within global supply chains, it’s really important to remember that you’re competing with far more than just other firms for the eyes and ears of your audience. They’re almost certainly choosing between your thought leadership and a TED talk or an article in the Economist, for example. And to put it bluntly, based on what we’ve seen every time we’ve looked over the shoulder of a time-starved senior executive on a train recently, the competition between thought leadership and Candy Crush Saga is ending up going the way of the boiled sweets virtually every time. They’ll apparently play that for hours.

The problem isn’t length, the problem is poor quality content.

If you’re wondering how you can improve your thought leadership, get in touch.

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