One of the joys of working for a client like The Economist (each and every one of our clients is a joy to work with in their own way, of course) is that they are brimming with ideas. Since we started working with them, we’ve discussed the age of Mass Intelligence, the advent of Lean Back digital media, “finishability” and the importance of luck.
In his latest interview, CEO Andrew Rashbass tells the Guardian:
“We now live in an ideas meritocracy. We’ve moved from a time when advertisers bought credibility to a time where credibility has to be earned. This means that those with a product to sell must be part of the discussion and the debate.”
What applies to the media business applies more broadly to the corporate reputation challenge. The best companies are winning the battle of ideas. Their point of view shapes the landscape in which their competitors operate. Fast Company describes one such battle:
Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google don’t recognize any borders; they feel no qualms about marching beyond the walls of tech into retailing, advertising, publishing, movies, TV, communications, and even finance. Across the economy, these four companies are increasingly setting the agenda. Bezos, Jobs, Zuckerberg, and Page look at the business world and justifiably imagine all of it funneling through their servers. Why not go for everything? The coming years will be fascinating to watch because this is a competition that might reinvent our daily lives even more than the four have changed our habits in the past decade.
It’s not enough that these companies have some of the best ideas in the tech space. They also have to persuade armies of suppliers, third-party developers and sometimes regulators that their ideas are right. Like every leading business, they are not just competing for market share, they are competing for share of voice in an ideas meritocracy.
In PR, we talk a lot about “thought leadership”. Too often we think of it as just a chance to grab a quick headline. But the power of ideas is much greater than that. Being generous with your ideas means setting the terms of trade for your industry and earning trust by explaining who you are and what you stand for.