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Clickbait headlines and writing in the thought-leadership style

Thought leadership is a term that has reached buzzword status and, as happens with buzzwords, it has gotten over-used and abused. I have set multiple alerts for “thought leadership” and the junky hits I get show how the term is getting watered down. On any given day, I receive articles about optimizing your search-engine results and the sales funnel, and they are travelling under the name thought leadership. That’s a real pity. It’s also an irony. As you’ll see in my forthcoming book, I’ve identified dozens of “sins” of corporate writing that is meant to be in the thought-leadership style. One of those sins is “not delivering on your headline.” If the headline of an article is “How to be a thought leader,” then the story should not be about optimizing your search results. But the equivalent of that is what my alert sends to my inbox far too often.

Thought leadership is about building trust with your audience. If you have click-baity headlines, then you break the trust.

This is my appeal to all the experts out there writing articles about your work: Please deliver on your headlines. If you can’t, please downsize the expectations you create with them.

By Rhea Wessel

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